[SINGAPORE] A flurry of firms have filed lawsuits against the Singapore units of bankrupt Danish shipping fuel trader OW Bunker, with claims totalling more than S$5 million, and traders say this is likely just the beginning of a wave of court actions.
Court documents seen by Reuters showed that the overall amount of claims made against OW Bunker Far East and Dynamic Oil Trading, both Singapore-based subsidiaries of the Danish firm, over unpaid supplies now total around S$5.3 million (US$4.11 million) made by nearly half a dozen companies.
OW Bunker has blamed fraud by unnamed senior employees for losses of at least US$125 million at Dynamic Oil, but has not revealed any details. Those losses forced the company to file for bankruptcy in Denmark last week.
The firms that have so far made claims against OW Bunker or one of its subsidiaries in Singapore are: Hin Leong Trading, Golden Island Diesel Oil Trading Pte, Bunker House Petroleum Pte, Equatorial Marine Fuel Management Services Pte, Panoil Petroleum Pte.
Traders said further claims were likely. "OW Bunker is a very large ship fuel supplier, perhaps even the biggest, so pretty much everyone in the sector had dealings with them or one of its subsidiaries," one fuel trader said."I'm sure every single one of them will try to claim back money owed." OW Bunker was estimated to have about 7 per cent of the global market for bunker, a liquid fuel refined from crude oil and used to power ships.
The marine fuel sector, which is dominated by small and often thinly capitalized companies, was thrown into turmoil when energy markets began to tumble in June, with oil prices shedding almost a third in value.
Another marine fuel supplier in Singapore, Vanguard Energy, filed for bankruptcy in the city state on Oct 29.