A well known Danish bunker company, currently under court-ordered anonymity, has on Thursday at the court in Kolding, Denmark, been found guilty of perpetrating fraud against one of its customers, Malaysian Pacific Inter-Link.
One of the two senior executives, also under court-ordered anonymity, was similarly found guilty, while the other senior executive was cleared.
The company is sentenced to pay USD 1.5 million in penalties to the company, while the sentenced senior executive was given a prison sentence of 3 years and 6 months.
He has also been stripped of the right to head a company in Denmark or abroad, and he may not work professionally in oil trade for the next five years.
This is evident from a press release issued by the court in Kolding, Denmark, which presented its verdict without a court session, and the sentence has been delivered by e-mail to the relevant parties.
"In the appointment of this sentence, the Court has emphasized the importance of the case concerning fraud worth a total of 24,348,689 Danish kroner (USD 3.6 million, -ed.), which was committed over a period of almost three years and has been systematic and professional with the involvement of accomplices abroad," reads the court statement.
The prosecutor for the Danish financial police, Knud Damgaard Kisbye, says:
"The executives and the company had a comprehensive and cunning setup to perpetrate fraud against the customer for millions. This is particularly severe because it was so systematic. For that reason, I'm pleased with the verdict, which also sends a clear signal to the business world that foul play is not acceptable."
The company's lawyer, Jacob Skude Rasmussen of firm Gorrissen Federspiel, informs that the verdict will be appealed.
"We are very surprised and completely uncomprehending of the verdict. We think that we disproved the charges point by point and we can't see that there is any evidence which could lead to this ruling. So, naturally, we decided to appeal the city court's verdict on the spot," says Jacob Skude Rasmussen.
Finans and ShippingWatch are working to get a comment from the defendants as well as the financial crimes unit of the Danish police, which filed charges in December for systematic fraud of USD 3.6 million in the period 2010-2013.
The financial police charged the company with billing Pacific Inter-Link for more fuel than was actually delivered.
Pacific Inter-Link originally filed the police charges with the Danish financial police in March 2014, as the company found it peculiar that the fuel economy was so poor on two vessels that had taken fuel deliveries from the Danish company.
Later, the customer withdrew the charges as part of a settlement deal but because the Danish financial police had already seized a large cache of documents through a dawn raid, which constituted enough sufficient evidence, and the Danish financial police thus decided to continue the investigation without an actual victim.
Lawyer Hanne Rahbek, representing the cleared senior executive, declines to comment on the case.
The city court in Kolding, Denmark has decided to maintain the order for anonymity until a final verdict has been given. The company as well as the sentenced individual now have 14 days to decide whether or not to appeal the ruling.