An emergency board meeting of industry association SEA Europe to discuss Finnish manufacturer Wärtsilä's engine fraud has never been on the table, informs the maritime equipment association's headquarters in Brussels.
In an interview with ShippingWatch back in March, chairman Kjeld Dittmann mentioned the possibility of calling an extraordinary board meeting to discuss the case, which he said was a problem that was harmful to the industry overall.
That depends on future developments. But at the moment we have no intention of discussing the matter in June"
But the association has now rejected that the suggestion of a meeting was even floated internally. It thus appears as though the chairman, who was appointed this summer, spoke too hastily when he mentioned the option last month.
"At the moment it is an issue that concerns Wärtsilä. At the level of Sea Europe we are monitoring the case, but given the information we have now, we do not consider it an industry problem. Therefore we have not yet pursued any internal measures or seen the need for an extraordinary board meeting on the matter," Secretary General Christophe Tytgat tells ShippingWatch.
He also rejects the suggestion that the case is on the agenda, when the board of the equipment association meets in June for its ordinary session.
"That depends on future developments. But at the moment we have no intention of discussing the matter in June," says Tytgat.
Fraud in Italy
Kjeld Dittmann's suggestion to hold an urgent meeting came in the immediate wake after it emerged that employees at Wärtsilä's Italian factory had manipulated test result data, so that the manufacturer's ship engines appeared to consume less fuel than was actually the case.
The Finnish company itself discovered what had happened and took the initiative to go public with it. Wärtsilä estimates that around two percent of engines sold within the last few years have been subjected to the fraud.
Wärtsilä's announcement came hot on the heels of a scandal concerning manufacturer MAN Diesel & Turbo, which was convicted in a similar fraud case back in 2013 and now faces paying millions in damages to a Norwegian customer.
As such, Kjeld Dittmann argued that there could be a need for an emergency board meeting in Sea Europe to discuss whether the industry is facing a problem with ethics.
"There is a need for a change in the culture, this is cheating and fraud, and it's not okay. Maybe it should be considered whether the authorities or classification companies should play a greater part when the products go on the market," Kjeld Dittmann told ShippingWatch in March, adding that he would first consult the board on the need for an urgent meeting.
Declines to comment
However, it now looks as though the subject will not be dealt with at all by the association, which represent European suppliers to the maritime industry.
Today, ShippingWatch sought Kjeld Dittmann for comment. He serves as CEO in Lyngsø Marine, which is owned by Wärtsilä, but he does not wish to comment. In March, the SEA Europe board released a collective statement, in which he rejected the need for a meeting, but this statement was apparently received only by industry media Bunkerspot.
ShippingWatch has since contacted Wärtsilä in order to learn whether the company has discussed the matter with Sea Europe. At press deadline, the engine manufacturer had not replied.