Former Monjasa executive lashes out at key witness

A former head of sales lashed out fiercely at the Danish Financial Police's key witness in the case against Monjasa. He denied having made a call that convinced the witness that fraud was taking place at the bunker company.

Photo: /ritzau/Joachim Ladefoged

Since this article was published, Denmark's Western High Court has cleared Monjasa and Jan Jacobsen of all charges.

On Monday, a former head of sales launched a fierce attack on the Danish Financial Police's key witness in the criminal case against Danish bunker company Monjasa during a dramatic testimony at Denmark's Western High Court, where Monjasa and founder Jan Jacobsen are fighting for acquittal after last year's conviction of gross fraud.

At the court session Monday, a former Monjasa executive had been summoned to testify about his role in the case, which concerns alleged over-billing related to numerous bunker deliveries in the period 2010-2013.

The head of sales was centrally placed in the disputed transactions, though he never appeared when he was summoned to the District Court. As such, this was the first time that the court heard his testimony.

While he denied any knowledge of the fraud, the more remarkable aspect of his testimony was a tirade launched against the prosecutor's key witness, a former bunker trader at Monjasa.

The former head of sales described the key witness as "a very fraudulent person" and denied having made a phone call at night, an event that is otherwise central to the witness' testimony. He also accused his former colleague of having defrauded the bunker company the two founded together after their time at Monjasa.

ShippingWatch has been in contact with the key witness, who rejects the accusations made by his former superior and business partner. The bunker company in question also declines to comment on the dispute between the two founders, which have at this point both left the company they helped found after leaving Monjasa.

Denies midnight phone call

The head of sales and the witness are two of the key people in the fraud case against Monjasa.

Together they handled the contact to customers as well as suppliers in most of the bunker transactions in which the company, as according to the District Court ruling, took payment for more fuel than was delivered.

My guess is that he made this up"

Former head of sales at Monjasa about the police's key witness
The key witness has previously been charged in the case, while the senior employee was investigated by the police up until December 2015, though without being charged. They both left Monjasa in 2012.

The key witness in particular has been crucial to the case. According to his testimony, Monjasa deliberately over-billed Malaysian palm oil producer Pacific Inter-Link by delivering too little bunker oil to two vessels chartered by the company.

For instance, when Pacific Inter-Link ordered 1,000 tons of fuel, only 800 tons would be delivered, he previously explained. And he maintained this explanation at the Western High Court when he was questioned last week.

The fraud, according to the police, was possible because Monjasa split the profits from the over-billing with a company that shared an employee with the management of the company that handled staffing the two vessels.

The key witness became convinced that fraud was taking place when, during the course of events, he received a midnight phone call from his closest superior, the head of sales who gave his first testimony on Monday.

In the phone conversation, the witness was told to make sure that one of the two vessels in that specific transaction should receive the bunker oil that had been ordered, as Pacific Inter-Link has sent people on board to check the delivery.

But this call never took place, says the head of sales.

"My guess is that he made this up," he said, referring to the key witness.

The head of sales' negative comments about his former colleague made the prosecutor wonder why the two people had established a business together after their time at Monjasa.

To which the former head of sales responded that he did not lose trust in his former subordinate until mid-2013 when he allegedly discovered that he had "committed serious fraud" at their new bunker company.

Claims which the key witness flatly denies when asked by ShippingWatch, and which also made the judge call for caution about comments made in a court of law.

Nothing odious about the transactions

While the head of sales spent part of his time on the stand attacking the key witness' credibility, he also denied knowing anything about the over-billing for which Monjasa and founder Jacobsen were convicted in September 2016.

What happens is that when they order 1,000 tons, we deliver 1,000 tons"

Former head of sales at Monjasa about alleged fraud
According to him, there were nothing "odious or unusual" about the transactions.

"What happens is that when they order 1,000 tons, we deliver 1,000 tons," he said, thus falling in line with the defense.

Monjasa and Jacobsen have throughout the case maintained that the bunker oil for the two vessels was supplied by two sub-suppliers, in most cases Tranship and Templar.

The key witness, a trader in a majority of the transactions, denies having ordered oil from Templar and is also not featured in the correspondences between Monjasa and the company, though the head of sales and founder Jacobsen are.

Two witnesses out

The head of sales on Monday was unable to say whether the key witness had done business with Templar.

But he explained he was typically the one who handled contact with the company that, according to the defense, supplied the remaining fuel volumes which the police claim were never delivered.

This was achieved by first contacting Templar to hear how much oil they could deliver, as they were the cheapest supplier, after which other suppliers were contacted.

A former Templar employee, Venugopal Sharma, confirmed this process as he also testified at the Western high Court on Monday.

It was also revealed at Monday's court session that the court has given up on getting testimony from a captain who worked on both vessels, while the owner of Danish bunker company Endofa, Kenn Søndergaard, will also not testify. Both were expected to provide testimony via video link from abroad.

The defense and prosecutor will present their cases on Tuesday and Wednesday before a verdict is issued on Nov. 20.

English Edit: Daniel Logan Berg-Munch

Monjasa presents its own investigation in appeal case 

Monjasa's fraud-convicted founder is fighting for acquittal 

Key witness in Monjasa case absent at appeal 

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