Turkish shipowner Advantage Tankers is looking to recoup $10.3m in a Manhattan federal court over an alleged wrongful arrest in South Africa.
According to court papers, the 156,644-dwt Advantage Sky (built 2010) has been held in Durban since last August, caught up in a controversy over legal disputes in New York state courts and London's High Court with the ship's previous owner.
The defendant is Icon Equipment and Corporate Infrastructure Fund Fourteen Liquidating Trust, an Icon Capital-run fund that provided a parent company guarantee in the South African dispute. The lawsuit says three of its subsidiaries — Icon Amazing, Icon Fantastic and Icon Octavian — caused the seizure.
Meanwhile, Advantage has filed a counterclaim in South Africa to overturn the arrest.
Advantage's attorney, Neil Quartaro of Watson Farley & Williams, declined to comment and the complaint is lacking details of the arrest.
But according to an affidavit from the South African arrest filed by Icon, the Advantage Sky was previously controlled by an affiliate of Turkey's Geden Lines and continues to be, despite being owned by Advantage Tankers.
The affidavit allege s that when Geden reorganised itself beginning in 2013, it transferred ownership from Turkish billionaire Mehment Emin Karamehment to his daughter, Gulsun Nazli Karamehment-Williams. But the elder Karamehment stayed in control of the company.
Karamehment-Williams owns 85% of Advantage. Executives have insisted the company is independent of Geden.
The South African lawsuit says Advantage, as a legal alter ego of Geden, owes Icon $75.1m after defaulting on charter payments for three ships.
The ships were arrested as security.