We are the Libyan Navigator Limited”/Malta [“LN”] who are the registered owners of m/t “BADR”, flag Libya, Port of registration Tripoli, IMO Nr. 9356426 and GNMTC/Libya as holding owners. With the present, we would like to introduce you to all relevant facts regarding the matter as follows:
In November 2017 while calling Port of Bourgas/Bulgaria MT “BADR was arrested via Harbor Master’[“HM”] order dd. 22 Nov 2017 as security for an eventual future claim of the Bulgarian partnership “Bulgargeomin Ltd DZZD” [“BGM”] (this is not a company but is consortium of three companies “Moran West Ltd”, “Moran Trade” and “Tectona Ltd”). The secured future claim was planned by BGM and intended to be based on a Greek maritime mortgage upon m/t BADR” dd.14 Sep 2017. On 29 Jan 2018 the arrest order was unconditionally revoked by The Supreme Court of Bulgaria [“SCB”] with the motives that BGM has no rights to claim and because BGM has not corporate legal status that allows them to be a valid party in any court procedures. The eventual future claim of BGM against the ship-owners was not lodged.
On basis of a.m. Supreme Court ruling 31 Jan 2018 Harbor master has released MT “BADR” but of the same date of 31 Jan 2018 Harbor Master has issued another order and has again detained the ship (copy attached). This second Harbor Master’ order was based on instructions given by court-bailiff Mr. Totko Kolev to Harbor Master. The court bailiff has asked Harbor Master to forbid MT ”BADR” to leave Port of Bourgas because BGM have obtained a court-execution-order dd. 12 Jan 2018 that was based the direct execution of the Greek mortgage upon the ship.
The a.m. second detention order of Harbor Master dd. 31 Jan 2018 was revoked by The Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria [“SAC”] on 02. Jan 2018 as absolutely illegal.
As per official certificate of The Libyan Maritime and Port Administration (where the ship is registered) until now there were no encumbrances and no Greek mortgages registered upon “BADR”. There is just one mortgage in favor of Libyan Ministry of Finance.
Meanwhile, it was revealed that the Greek mortgage is forged. The Greek notary has officially stated that such mortgage does not exist and was never performed and never registered. Criminal proceedings was started and is now pending in Greece against the person who has cheated the notary.
In January 2018 the court bailiff Mr. Totko Kolev started a public auction against the ship in Bourgas. The auction and its formalities were stopped by the court on 6th of February 2018 and later again with a second Judicial Order dated 20th of April, 2018 and the court-bailiff was ordered to hold the auction because of the suspicious status of the Greek mortgage. Ignoring the law and the court rulings that have ordered court-bailiff to stop the auction before it ends, the court-bailiff went on with the formalities of the auction. Moreover, on 30th of August, he issued an Order for Awarding (writ of ownership), and claimed that the latter was served to Libyan Navigator through his lawyer. It is revealed later that some judicial document was forged together with the LN lawyer’s signature. The Order of Awarding has not entered into valid legal force. At the moment, the appeal proceedings against the Order of Awarding is still pending.
Meanwhile, with no legal grounds the bailiff considers the Order entered into force and although there are two court rulings that forbid him to continue the auction, the bailiff ignores them and continues with his illegal actions.
Of course, the ship-owners have appealed the activities of the court-bailiff. The basic starting activities of the auction as well as some of the formalities and documents concerned were finally revoked by The District Court of Bourgas on 21. Dec 2018 which makes the whole auction invalid and the vessel need to be considered as not sold at all. Unfortunately, the judgment is dated on 21st but it was visible as text on 27th. Meantime, the vessel’s crew and flag was changed by rough force applied by officers of “Border Police” and by officers of “Maritime Administration” together with private security guards. But, again, we as ship-owner couldn’t accept such violent acts and continued to seek our rights, as the whole day of 27th our efforts and our lawyer’s were concentrated to inform and stress again all relevant authorities and to require their official involving actions.
Meanwhile, on the same date of 27 Dec 2018 the Panama state Maritime authorities suspended the provisional Panama-flag-certificate declaring that it was issued on basis of false documents served by “Bulgargeomin Ltd DZZD” !
We couldn’t believe it, but all these letters and meetings, were ended with no success, as early in the morning on 28th, between midnight and 1 a.m. using the night, as real criminals, our vessel with the false crew left Burgas with Sailing Permission issued by the Bulgarian Marine Administration. And all this happened while the Panama flag of the ship (that was picked up by the “new owners Bulgargeomin Ltd DZZD”) was suspended on 27 Dec 2018 ! It was shocking but still a fact!
During all this time LN were and still are and remain the only valid and undisputable ship-owners of “BADR”. Ignoring the law and specially ignoring the International Law of the Sea and neglecting also all above mentioned obligatory court acts and official documents, unknown people (at least for the ship-owner) actively supported by the Bulgarian Border Police and by the HM and by using private security guards (according to the crew and to Master’ reports) on 21 Dec 2018 have embarked the Libyan ship “BADR”. According to reports of the crew and of Master, these guards had used rough illegal force and threats and have forced the Libyan Master and the crew to leave the ship and have replaced them by some foreigners.
In our opinion, this is a pure and obvious sample of a criminal “abordage”.
From 21st till 27th all relevant Bulgarian authorities were informed in all details and were duly and officially signalized about these illegal actions – The Prosecution, The Ministry of Justice, The Ministry of internal Affairs, The Border Police, The Marine Administration, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
At the moment the appeal proceeding against the Possession transfer of the vessel is pending. Also, there is an appeal proceeding against Marine Administration’ Sailing Permission that was wrongfully and unlawfully issued and that has allowed our ship to leave Bourgas under the illegal control of “Bulgargeomin Ltd DZZD”.
It was also revealed that based on misleading documents, the flag of the ship was changed to Panama and the Bulgarian consortium “BULGARGEOMIN Ltd DZZD” has claimed alleging in fraud that they are the “new ship-owner”.
On 27 Dec 2018 Panama Maritime authorities have suspended the provisional Panama navigation-flag-certificate ! At the present moment Panama-maritime administration finalizes the formalities of de-registration and return of the true and genuine Libyan flag upon “BADR”. The fact is that since 27 Dec 2018 the false provisional registration under Panama flag is SUSPENDED and this could be simply checked and confirmed by the Bulgarian Maritime Administration via the channels of their international co-operation even by making just one phone call to their colleagues in Panama – what is the normal and professional way in such situations. Unfortunately this fact, as well as the whole detention of BADR from 17 Nov 2017 up to now plus the unlawful criminal forcible “abordage” organized and performed by the “Maritime administration” and “Border Police” will unconditionally and with no doubt lead to the serious material and ethical liability of the Bulgarian state.
We, Libyan Navigator Limited, as legitimate and valid ship-owner of the vessel BADR, will require and seek only one thing – the pure and real justice from the Bulgarian judicial system and the relevant international judicial authorities and courts.
We will admire any fast reaction from the relevant high-standing administrative structures of the Bulgarian government, as for now we stay not very optimistic for such, as we hadn’t received even a single letter or respond to any of our signals or applications for information, except from the prosecution office who informed also via public medias that there is a criminal investigation started.
We put our faith on the legal principles of the democracy in The Republic of Bulgaria, as member of EU, but we still would like to announce our deep disappointment from the ways our company and vessel were treated. We had never expected such an action that seems to show some signs of piracy, based on forged signatures of notary, of lawyers and court-officers, combined with state support (and/or with passive indifference too) in an EU-country. We just would like our ship back in the proper legal manner without further complications. This will keep, we hope, our traditionally good bilateral relations also for the future.