Iran says cargo ships freed in Singapore

Three Iranian cargo ships seized in Singapore several months ago due to a financial dispute linked to sanctions on the Islamic Republic have been released, officials said.

Iran says cargo ships freed in Singapore

Three Iranian cargo ships seized in Singapore several months ago due to a financial dispute linked to sanctions on the Islamic Republic have been released, officials said on Wednesday.

"After solving the problems created by Westerners, the Iranian ships which were seized in Singapore were freed a few minutes ago," Commerce Minister Mehdi Ghazanfari told the country's semi-official Fars news agency.

The website of state run Press TV reported that the dispute started when France's Credit Agricole CIB called in a loan early due to sanctions which have hit Iran's ability to access financial services in many foreign countries.

The chairman of IRISL (Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines), Mohammad Hossein Dajmar, told Press TV: "They claim that since these ships did not have creditable insurance, the status of the loan was changed to an overdue debt."

"This is while they (the West) banned British insurance (companies) from insuring Iranian ships," Dajmar said, adding that the outstanding $200 million had been repaid.

Credit Agricole CIB told Reuters later a syndicate of banks that it represented had obtained in September 2010 the arrest in Singapore of three container vessels, the Sahand, Sabalan and Tuchal, owned by subsidiaries of Iranian shipping company IRISL.

"In mid-November, following the failure of the borrowers to post adequate bond, the Singapore Court ordered the judicial sale of the vessels," the bank said.

"Subsequently, the borrowers fully repaid the lenders the fully accelerated loan and other amounts claimed by the lenders, in a total amount of 155 million euros ($204 million)."

"At a hearing held on January 5, 2010, the Singapore Court decided to terminate the judicial auction sale process and ordered the release of the vessels," it said.

The bank said Singapore authorities would decide the date of the release.

More ships held

IRISL's Dajmar said two other Iranian vessels, seized in Hong Kong and Malta for similar reasons, were still being held, pending negotiations. He said earlier this week that those ships were being held by an unnamed German bank.

The United States imposed new sanctions on Iran last month in a bid to increase pressure on Tehran.

However, the president has urged the West to scrap the sanctions if it wants a fruitful outcome from talks between Iran and the six major powers which resumed in Geneva in December after more than a year.


Reuters

Last Mod: 06 Ocak 2011, 10:03
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