Today, two and a half years after the collapse of Danish company OW Bunker, Denmark's Attorney General's office for fraud and economic crimes has revealed that it is charging a former executive of a Singaporean subsidiary of OW Bunker with committing fraud.
From May 2016: employed at Tanker Broker
April 2015 - April 2016: Oil & Shipping Consuiltant
October 2012 - November 2014: CEO for Dynamic Oil Trading
June 2004 - October 2012: General Manager Asia / MD OW Bunker Singapore
The charges are for fraud worth a total of DKK 800 million (USD 122.75 million) while former members of OW Bunker's executive management team are not charged. As such, liability for OW Bunker's collapse is attributed to Møller and the company Dynamic Oil Trading, which was established in Singapore in 2012 as a subsidiary of OW Bunker.
Throughout the course of events, Andersen has represented Møller, who still lives in Singapore. And the lawyer is not surprised by the charges made today:
"The Danish economic crimes unit has made obscure decisions before. But we had hoped they would have deliberated this well," he tells ShippingWatch, adding:
"We have said before that there is no substance to this and we maintain this stance. There is nothing here in the context of criminal liability."
Lars Møller, former CEO in Dynamic Oil Trading
Denmark's Attorney General's office for fraud and economic crimes – known as the Danish Fraud Squad (SØIK) – has investigated for years what – actually happened in the OW Bunker group leading up to the bankruptcy and has only now decided to charge Møller alone. According to the economic crimes unit, Møller did not have the authority to grant credits of more than DKK 800 million over an 18-month period.
The charge concerns Dynamic Oil Trading's big credits to a Singapore company which according to SØIK, Møller had no mandate to give. Over the course of 1.5 years, the credits ran up to more than DKK 800 million, revealed the prosecutor's office on Thursday.
Earliest case in spring 2018
Andersen notes that the charges concern a breach of mandate.
There are two important factors, he explains.
What went wrong at Dynamic Oil Trading?
The OW Bunker subsidiary in Singapore issued credits to the company Tankoil far larger than DOT had been authorized to by OW Bunker's CEO Jim Pedersen and far more than Tankoil could repay. In the wake of OW Bunker's collapse in 2014, the debt reached close to USD 125 million. The debt only fell under Møller's leadership from October 31 2014, the now-deceased Pedersen previously claimed.
The first issue is to what extent Møller violated the mandate he had from the parent company located in Aalborg, Denmark. The second issue is whether he used it to ensure other parties would profit at OW Bunker's cost.
"Neither of the claims have, in my opinion, been substantiated. Particularly in regards to the first point which is a fundamental condition that there is a violation of the mandate you have. OW Bunker de facto accepted the condition of the subsidiary. Additionally in Aalborg there has been an attempt to hide this in different ways, which illustrates to me that it has been completely clear that there was a significant trade with DOT. Not just a big credit, but there have also been earnings because there were significant interest earnings. And those interest earnings were had only because there was a principal."
According to Andersen, the complaints authority will spend eight days on the case which will thus first be heard in spring 2018:
"My calendar is full," says the lawyer.
Long accused of fraud
Møller and Dynamic Oil trading were originally identified as the fundamental cause of OW Bunker's collapse not long after the event, which came as a huge surprise to the entire industry. The then-management quickly accused the subsidiary of fraud, and accused both the company and Møller for their role in swindling USD 125 million from the group.
Since then, Møller has made comments via Andersen and denied the accusations.
English Edit: Gretchen Deverell Pedersen & Lena Rutkowski