Beluga Nomination: Niels out, no ransom money
Eight Beluga Shipping group companies have filed for protection from creditors, saying they are insolvent. This has raised concerns about how the group can ever ransom the seven surviving crew of the Beluga Nomination. The ship is at anchor in Haradhere, Somalia. 'We are in regular contact with the ship,' a Beluga spokesman said. Ransom negotiations had not yet settled the sum. It will be up to the insolvency administrator to decide whether to pay off the pirates, he said.
A US shareholder, private-equity fund Oaktree, which kicked off the inquiry with a complaint to German prosecutors, is now managing the company. Oaktree accused Stolberg of harming shareholders by hiding millions of euros from them.
Bremen, Germany - Police raided the offices on March 23, looking for evidence of possible fraud by the group's former chief executive, Niels Stolberg.
Beluga hit the headlines in January when one of its freighters, the Beluga Nomination, was seized by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean.
The crew held out for three days against the pirates. Two crew members were killed by the pirates during a naval attempt to recapture the boat and one crewman drowned in a bid to flee.
Prosecutors declined to say if police found anything during the search of Beluga's waterside offices.
German shipping is dominated by wealthy private investors who seek tax breaks by acquiring ships and chartering them to operating companies such as Beluga. After the allegations surfaced, many of the owners reclaimed their ships from Beluga last week.
The Nomination, which carried several luxury yachts, is one of a fleet of ships designed to transport bulky loads.