The London P&I Club has warned its members about a spate of vessel arrests in Egypt, and in particular the port of Suez, in respect of claims for unsettled invoices in respect of supplies and/or services which have supposedly been provided to vessels.
Writing in the latest issue of its StopLoss Bulletin, the Club says that, although suppliers have submitted false invoices with apparently authentic signatures of ship's staff and the ship's stamp, in most instances the master has been unable to explain how these have been affixed to the invoice.
In other cases, invoices have been completely forged. Suppliers and their lawyers have also ordered the arrest of vessels as security in some instances.
The London Club
's correspondent in Alexandria, Eldib Advocates, has applied to the Egyptian ministry of justice to have vessel arrests limited to those cases involving only known and established suppliers. It has also asked the ministry to support the creation of a system whereby arrested vessels can be released immediately upon submission of a bank guarantee.
The Club says masters should not sign any blank papers, particularly while in the Suez Canal area, and should not leave any blank spaces above their signature on legitimate documents which they do sign. The Club has also reminded its members that the Suez Canal Authority is the only organization in Egypt which is authorized to take measures to protect the marine environment in the port of Suez, and to impose fines. Other agencies, such as the Society Marine Environment Protection Committee, are alleging that they are empowered to carry out such tasks.