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High Court freezes Russian fruit multi-national Joint Fruit Company’s worldwide assets

Monday, 19 December 2011 | 00:00
The English High Court has issued a worldwide freezing order against Russia’s largest fruit multi-national, JFC Group Co. Ltd ("JFC") of St Petersburg (owned by Mr Vladimir Kekhman).
In August 2011 the High Court in London awarded reefer ship owner STAR Reefers USD16.5m, plus legal costs and interest, against charterparty guarantor JFC, following the unlawful early redelivery of three ships and wrongful termination of the charters by JFC’s chartering arm Kalistad Ltd of Cyprus. JFC have not appealed the judgment and it is now final. JFC have failed to pay the judgment sum.
On 6 September 2011, the judgment debt against JFC was registered with the UK Government’s Registry Trust, which is publically searchable by banks, rating agencies, lenders and creditors.
As a result of JFC’s failure to pay the judgment debt and breach of other court orders, on 10 November 2011 the High Court ordered JFC to disclose details of all of their worldwide assets with a value exceeding USD25,000 and any transactions between JFC and its associated companies.
Because of JFC’s continuing failure to comply with court orders and due to evidence that assets may have be transferred between offshore companies to frustrate creditors, on 16 December 2011 His Honour Judge Mackie QC issued a worldwide freezing order in the sum of USD21m against JFC's assets. This Order is to be served on JFC’s Boards of management and directors and also its owner Vladimir Kekhman. Failure to comply with the Order is punishable by contempt of court sanctions, including up to two years’ imprisonment and/ or unlimited fines.
The Court Order lists all of JFC’s known associated companies in Cyprus, Luxembourg, Ecuador, Costa Rica and British Virgin Islands, including its direct parent company Huntleigh Investments Ltd and ultimate parent company JFC Group Holding (BVI) Ltd.
JFC’s banks including Royal Bank of Scotland, Citibank, Nordea, VTB (Deutschland), Gazprombank, Raiffeisen, Sberbank, UniCredit, Amsterdam Trade Bank, Banque Societe Generale, Commerzbank, and Bank of Moscow have been notified of the Court Order.
Bank Saint Petersburg, which is partially owned by the state funded European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, owns and controls 20% of JFC.
STAR has also commenced enforcement proceedings in Cyprus, Luxembourg and the USA against JFC’s associated companies.
STAR Reefers Chief Executive Mr Simon Stevens -
“It is disappointing that we have had to take such steps to enforce our rights but JFC have gone to remarkable lengths to avoid their contractual obligations. Even more disappointing is the way JFC's owner, Mr Kekhman, seems to be endorsing JFC’s irresponsible behaviour. It is important that they understand that they are not above the law”.
Source: Star Reefers
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