An economic criminal court in Bremen has approved three indictments against the founder of the former German heavy lift shipping company Beluga Shipping GmbH, Niels Stolberg, and the trial is set to start in January, 2016, according to local media.
Stolberg is, among other things, suspected of fraud and embezzlement of USD 110 million and is also being charged for forgery and breach of trust. The embezzlement charges link Beluga founder to alleged obtaining of higher credit from the banks by overstating shipbuilding prices.
Together with three former associates from Beluga, Stolberg is scheduled to appear before a court on January 20th, when the trial will officially begin. Following the setting up of the trial date, Stolberg said that he was feeling optimistic and relieved, as he claims to be innocent, Radio Bremen reports.
Beluga Shipping, which once employed over 600 people and managed a fleet of 72 ships, fell victim to the market crisis in 2009. Stolberg tried to save the company by teaming up with US investor Oaktree Capital Management, only to be laid off in 2011 under suspicion of committing fraud.
Oaktree injected USD 280 million in Beluga in 2010. Following a request for further investment, Oaktree conducted a due diligence investigations into the shipping company in 2011, which found financial irregularities that led to Beluga’s demise.
The company was taken over by Oaktree and renamed to Hansa Heavy Lift which took over a fleet of 16 vessels and around 60 of the Beluga team of 670 people.
World Maritime News Staff