V.Ships hits back at critics

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The long-running ‘risk and reward’ debate over responsibility for honouring debt when a ship owner files for bankruptcy has raised its head again after shipmanagement giant V.Ships moved to defend itself over allegations raised by an internet campaign that it was not paying its suppliers.

Poland-based supplier Jastra Co Ltd was so incensed over the non-payment of a €4,296 bill that it launched a website reproducing all the emails circulated between itself and V.Ships. It said in a statement on the website that it had negotiated the terms of payment with V.Ships and not with the ship owner, Gurkan Shipping.

However, Bob Bishop, CEO of V.Ships Ship Management, said V.Ships acted purely as the agent for the ship owner and that while it shared Jastra’s frustrations, he claimed “they are going after the wrong entity”.

The spat raises the important issue that increasingly, people are reluctant to recognise that managers act as agents only, he told SMI. “It is a risk and reward issue whereby the rewards are so minuscule that managers are reluctant to take on the risks.”

He added: “We are very sorry for this woman who has been let down by the owner who has gone bust. We find ourselves in a similar position and naturally we continue to resolve all ‘outstandings’ not only for her but and us and for everyone else. On the other hand, and in the time honoured way in shipmanagement, managers remain as agents acting only on behalf of the ship owner.”

If this was not acceptable to the business, owners might have to start prefunding to change the nature of shipmanagement, he stated.

A year ago V Ships was reported in maritime circles to be chasing Gurkan Shipping for $1.1m in allegedly unpaid management fees and other damages.