Norwegian shipowner Star Reefers has won a U.K. court order freezing assets of Russia’s largest fruit importer, JFC Group, to enforce a judgment over the Russian company’s violation of charter agreements.
The High Court action followed an August court order that awarded Star $16.5 million, plus legal costs and interest, for the unlawful early delivery of three ships and wrongful termination of charters by JFG.
After JFG had failed to appeal or pay the judgment, the High Court last month ordered the company to disclose details of all its worldwide assets valued at $25,000 or more, and any transactions with its associated companies.
The court followed up that action Friday with an order freezing $21 worth of JFG assets. Star said the order will be served on JFC’s management and directors and its owner, Vladimir Kekhman.
“It is disappointing that we have had to take such steps to enforce our rights but JFC have gone to remarkable lengths to avoid their contractual obligations,” said Star CEO Simon Stevens. “Even more disappointing is the way JFC's owner, Mr. Kekhman, seems to be endorsing JFC’s irresponsible behavior. It is important that they understand that they are not above the law.”
The asset freeze covers all of JFC’s known associated companies in Cyprus, Luxembourg, Ecuador, Costa Rica and British Virgin Islands, including its direct parent company, Huntleigh Investments Ltd, and ultimate parent company JFC Group Holding (BVI) Ltd.
Star said JFC’s banks had been notified of the order. They include Royal Bank of Scotland, Citibank, Nordea, VTB (Deutschland), Gazprombank, Raiffeisen, Sberbank, UniCredit, Amsterdam Trade Bank, Banque Societe Generale, Commerzbank, and Bank of Moscow. Bank Saint Petersburg, which is partially owned by the state funded European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, owns and controls 20 percent of JFC.
Star said it also has commenced enforcement proceedings in Cyprus, Luxembourg and the U.S. against JFC’s associated companies.