Mumbai court denies pre-arrest bail to captain who facilitated seizure of oil ship off Egypt

Prabhat Jha has denied the charges

mumbai Updated: Dec 10, 2017 01:22 IST
Charul Shah
Charul Shah
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,bail,ship captain

A sessions court denied pre-arrest bail to a ship captain, Prabhat Jha, and his wife, Rashmi, for allegedly facilitating the seizure of a vessel by the Egyptian Navy.

The Santacruz police are investigating the case.

According to the police, Jha was on board the MT Pristine GV, managed by Mumbai-based company Shuttle Chemical Carrier, when the ship was seized by the Egyptian Navy at Safaga Port on June 15, 2016. The ship was hired by HAPCO FZE and MOK Petroleum Energy to carry gas oil from Fujairah, UAE. to Hodeidah, Yemen, and was being captained by Aaninda Sengupta at the time.

According to the complaint registered by the manager of Shuttle Chemical Carrier in September 2017, Jha had colluded with HAPCO FZE and MOK Petroleum Energy to get the ship seized in exchange for $1,08,000.

The ship departed on January 4, 2016, and reached the destination after eleven days. However, as the companies could not provide the required permits and documents, the crew was not allowed to deliver the gas oil. Consequently, the ship remained anchored at the Hodeidah Port, and eventually proceeded towards Djibouti and then Salalah, Oman.

Meanwhile, Sengupta’s contract as the captain of the ship expired, and Jha was appointed as his successor.

The ship owner Pristine, a Dubai-based firm, sought Rs24.23 crore in damages from HAPCO FZE.

While the negotiations were underway, the ship was arrested by the Egyptian Navy for sailing in international waters without permits. The ship was reportedly unloaded at Safaga port and is still stationed there.

According to the complaint, Jha’s email correspondence with MOK Energy revealed that he had agreed to accept $1,08,000 in bribe if he facilitated the seizure of the ship and arrest of the crew. It was further alleged that Jha and his wife have received Rs18.07 lakh in their bank accounts.

Jha, however, rejected the allegations stating that he had tried to avoid the seizure. According to him, they were stuck in international waters for 44 days. During this period, five warrants had been issued against them by NCB (National Centre Bureau)/Interpol, an Egyptian court, and a Kenyan court. Ultimately, he was unable to evade the seizure as they were surrounded by Egyptian warships.

The sessions court while rejecting Jha’s plea observed that, “the grounds presented by the petitioner for grant of anticipatory bail are not found to be satisfactory”.

First Published: Dec 10, 2017 01:22 IST