Denmark's Maersk officials insists on the release of the Maersk Tigris' crew that is being held by the Iranian Authorities. It was announced by the Iran's Foreign Minister, that the detention of the cargo vessel was linked to a long-running legal dispute with Iran, started in 2005, regarding an uncollected cargo from Dubai.
The Marsk Tigris was seized on Tuesday in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, with 24 crew members on board, mostly from Eastern Europe and Asia, plus one British citizen.
Maersk officials said the vessel was in an international trade lane when was detained. From the other side, the Iranian authorities noted that it was in their territorial waters. A U.S. military vessel was sent at the location to monitor the situation.
Javad Zalif, the Iranian Foreign Minister said that his country respected the rights to freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf. He dismissed as well the speculation that the seizure was linked to the ongoing conflict in Yemen, where the United States had deployed an aircraft carrier group.
The minister said that in the court case from 2005, the Maersk Shipping company, which was the vessel charter, had been ordered by an Iranian court to pay damages to a private firm. Back then, 10 containers transported by Maersk Line on behalf of an Iranian company, arrived in Dubai, but the containers have never been collected by the consignee or any other party. In accordance with UAE law, after 90 days, the cargo was disposed of by UAE authorities.
Afterwards the Maersk Line was accused by the Iranian company of default before the Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office in Tehran and claimed $4 million recovery, equal to the cargo's value. Denmark's Maersk challenged the suit and the case was dismissed in 2007. Later in 2009, the case went before the Iranian district courts and then the Iranian company initiated civil proceedings in the Public Civil Court in Tehran.
The Appeal Court of Tehran ordered Maersk Line in February 2015 to pay to the Iran company the amount of $163 000, which the Danish Maersk was ready to pay. The Iranian private company appealed seeking a higher compensation and today it has come to light that the Appeal Court has ruled Maersk to pay $3,6 million.
Representatives of the Danish company said that they were not informed in any written or formal confirmation about the ruling and the seizure of their vessel and cannot comment on the matter.
The Maersk Tigris remains at Shahid Bahonar in the Strait of Hormuz under Iranian custody and according to Maersk officials, the company will continue to work with the relevant Iranian authorities, to resolve the problem.