Brothers charged

Two Malaysian shipowning brothers are facing 77 charges after being accused of having ships enter Brunei waters without clearance and not paying duty on more than 35,000 tonnes of stones.

The unnamed defendants have been released on BND 40,000 ($32,000) bail.

They have a month to seek legal counsel before entering a plea.

Some of the charges relate to Abasa Shipping & Trading for allegedly importing "uncustomed goods" from Lawas, Sarawak, on 38 occasions between January and November 2013, the Brunei Times reported.

Ngu Shipping & Trading is facing similar charges for allegedly abetting the entry.

Two ships containing 14 crew have been stuck in Muara port for nine months.

The country’s Anti Corruption Bureau said Ngu Shipping & Trading owns the vessels while Abasa Shipping & Trading was set up in Brunei to receive payments made from the sale of the stones.

Another hearing has been set for 4 September.