Egyptian authorities seize ship blocking the Suez Canal amid financial disputes

Egyptian authorities have seized a huge cargo ship blocked the Suez Canal That said the channel chief and a judicial official Tuesday last month. The ship was impounded amid a financial dispute with the owner.

Lieutenant General Osama Rabie said the colossal Ever Given would not be allowed to leave the country until compensation has been arranged with the ship’s Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd.

“The ship has now been officially seized,” he told Egyptian state television late Monday. “They don’t want to pay anything.”

There was no immediate comment from the ship’s owner.

Rabie did not say how much money the channel authority was looking for. However, a court official said it demanded at least $ 900 million. The state-run daily newspaper Ahram also reported the figure of $ 900 million.

That amount takes into account the salvage operation, cost of channel traffic jam, and foregone transit fees for the week Ever Given blocked the channel.

The official said the order to impound the ship was issued by a court in the city of Ismailia on the Suez Canal on Monday and the ship’s crew were informed on Tuesday.

He said prosecutors in Ismailia have also opened a separate investigation into what led to the ever being grounded. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief media.

Rabie said negotiations were still ongoing to reach a settlement on compensation.

He warned in an interview with The Associated Press last week that taking the case to court would be more damaging to the ship’s owner than settling with the channel’s leadership.

Procedures can be complicated as the vessel is owned by a Japanese company, operated by a Taiwanese shipper, and sails the Panama flag.

The Panamanian-flagged ship that carries about $ 3.5 billion in cargo between Asia and Europe ran aground on March 23 in the narrow, man-made channel that separates continental Africa from the Asian Sinai Peninsula.

The ship had crashed on the bank of a one-lane stretch of the canal, about 6 miles north of the south entrance, near the city of Suez.

On March 29, salvage teams freed Ever Given, ending a crisis that had clogged one of the world’s most vital waterways and brought billions of dollars a day to a halt in maritime trade. The ship has since stopped in Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake, just north of where it previously blocked the canal.

The unprecedented six-day shutdown, which increased fears of lengthy delays, shortages of goods and rising costs for consumers, put additional pressure on shipping already under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic.

Rabie, the channel chief, told state television that there was no wrongdoing by the channel authority. He refused to argue possible causesincluding the speed of the ship and the high winds that plagued it during a sandstorm.

When asked if the owner of the ship had made a mistake, he said, “Of course he did.”

Rabie said the authority’s conclusion of the investigation was expected Thursday.