Glencore chartered vessel sues BoC over ‘unwarranted seizure and detention’

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Chartered vessel MT Alpine Magnolia, owned by trading giant Glencore Singapore Pte Ltd, sought relief from the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) in the face of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) inaction on its urgent appeal for it to be released from “unwarranted seizure and detention.”

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In its appeal, MT Alpine Magnolia said the unfounded allegation of the BoC and its wrongful seizure of the vessel was carried out without due process thus besmirching its reputation in the international business community, and causing a major client, BP Group, one of world’s biggest energy companies, to put its business with MT Alpine Magnolia on hold “until BP Shipping is satisfied that adequate measures have been taken in respect of this incident.”

BP Shipping noted that it came to their attention that the MT Alpine Magnolia was seized by the BoC as it was carrying smuggled fuel.

MT Alpine Magnolia is a foreign vessel owned by Magnolia Shipping Pte Ltd and operated by ST Shipping of Singapore. MT Alpine Magnolia was chartered by Glencore Shipping Pte Ltd and ST Shipping to carry the bunker fuel consigned to SL Harbor Bulk Terminal Corp., the shipping unit of San Miguel Corp.

Earlier, the BoC seized MT Alpine Magnolia in the port of Limay, Bataan on charges that it was carrying smuggled fuel. The cargo, consisting of bunker fuel worth more than P700 milion was consigned to S.L. Harbor. It also earlier filed a similar case before the CTA.

MT Alpine Magnolia said its non-operation is causing financial losses of $20,000 per day since it has been detained by the BoC since December 2016. The amount, which stands at $2.4 million or P120 million to date, is exclusive of interests, legal and related expenses plus damage to goodwill of the parties involved.

The vessel officials added that it was forced to file the petition for review before the CTA due to the failure and inaction of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to act on its appeal on the earlier decision of BoC Bataan District Collector Julius Premediles to seize and detain the vessel.

In its omnibus motion filed together with its main appeal for review, MT Alpine Magnolia’s legal counsel said “With this serious and irreparable injury being sustained by petitioner, the extreme urgency of its immediate releases from seizure and detention cannot be overemphasized.”

It added, “In fact, it is of record that it filed a motion with the Customs commissioner so that it can explore the posting of security for its (the vessel’s) immediate release. The motion landed on deaf ears and the commissioner did not set any hearing. Pleading and stressing the dire urgency of the resolution of the appeal and its probable release, the petitioner wrote the commissioner, not once but twice. Notwithstanding said pleas, the commissioner filed to act on the petitioner’s appeal.”

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