Wednesday 14th March 2012, 09:39 London
Court rules JFC 'breached freezing order'
Russian group's CEO and directors are summoned to face contempt proceedings by the Admiralty and Commercial Court in London
On Friday 9 March, the Admiralty and Commercial Court in London held a review hearing in respect of reefer ship operator Star Reefers' global freezing order against leading Russian fresh fruit importer Joint Fruit Company (JFC).
According to a statement from Star, Judge Edelman QC read detailed submissions and heard arguments from both parties' leading counsel at the hearing, and held that there were good grounds for continuing the worldwide freezing order against JFC's assets across the globe.
The court order also requires the Russian group to give prior notification of all business transactions in excess of US$25,000 (€19,000) and to provide an updated schedule of its assets by 16 March 2012, while JFC was also ordered to pay Star's legal costs totalling £175,000 (€133,000).
Judge Edelman also found that there was a 'good arguable case' that there had been serious breaches of the freezing order by JFC and that seven named directors/officers had wilfully disobeyed the court's previous order, put in place in December last year, and subsequently granted permission to serve contempt of court proceedings on these directors/officers.
Contempt proceedings will now be served on JFC owner and CEO Vladimir Kekhman and directors/officers Andrey Afanasyev, Dmitri Kasatkin, Vitaly Podolsky, Yulia Zakharova, Tatiana Litvinova and Oleg Dobronravo, with the hearing set for 23 May this year.
"If these directors/officers are found guilty of contempt they may face imprisonment, unlimited fines and their personal property may be seized," Star noted.
JFC filed for bankruptcy in February in order to protect its creditors and keep its sizeable business operations afloat following ongoing global economic unrest and, in particular, the impact of the so-called 'Arab Spring' on its Mediterranean operations.