Maersk Line called Thursday for the crew of the cargo shop still being held by Iran to be released immediately and released details of the business conflict that likely caused the ship to be seized.
The Iranian military seized the Maersk Tigris on Tuesday, firing shots across the bow of the ship to divert it into Iranian waters as it was transiting the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran has claimed that it seized the ship because of a business conflict with the Maersk shipping company. Maersk Line, however, urged the Iranians to release the crew and ship as soon as possible, since they are affiliated with Rickmers Ship Management.
“The crew is not employed by Maersk Line, nor is the vessel owned by Maersk Line. Maersk Tigris and its crew are thus not in any way party to the case, which presumably is the reason behind the seizure of Maersk Tigris,” the shipping company said in a statement.
Maersk Line also said the crew is “safe and in good spirits.”
The conflict over cargo that likely prompted Iran to intercept the ship dates back to 2005, the Maersk Line statement says. Maersk Line transported 10 containers to Dubai for an Iranian company, but when they were not collected after 90 days, they were disposed of, in accordance with laws in the United Arab Emirates.
“The Iranian company subsequently accused Maersk Line of default before the Tehran Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office and claimed recovery of $4 million as the value of the cargo. We challenged the suit successfully and in 2007 the case was dismissed,” the statement said.
The Iranian company then pressed civil charges against Maersk Line.
In February, after four years of court proceedings, Maersk Line was ordered to pay the Iranian company $163,000, which the shipping company said it is “willing to pay.”
On an appeal seeking higher compensation, however, Maersk Line was ordered to pay $3.6 million, the statement said – though they only heard of this new ruling on Thursday.
“Only today, 30 April, have we learnt that the appeal court has ruled Maersk Line to pay $ 3.6 million,” the statement said. “As we do not have the details of the ruling, we are not able to comment hereon, nor at this point speculate on our options.”