The qualification of Safesea Group to participate in the privatisation of Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) has stirred up a hornet’s nest following revelations of a long-running dispute the US-based firm has with the State-run carrier over unpaid dues for services rendered, a matter that would have led to the disqualification of the company from the bid as per the eligibility norms set by the government.

Earlier, to recover the unpaid dues of some $500,000 including interest, Safesea even went to the extent of arresting a dry bulk carrier owned by SCI with the help of a local court in Durban, South Africa last November. SCI managed to get the ship released on a guarantee given by the firm’s protection and indemnity club (insurer) that covers the claim made by the aggrieved party until the dispute is decided.

The arrest of the ship was widely reported. The case is now being fought in the South African court.

Government authorities in Delhi considers this a big lapse from the Directors of SCI and the Auction Adiversers to SCI for having gone into such an untoward incident by qualifying Safesea, when they were fully aware of the issues pertaining relating to the arrests and subsequent pending legal issues between SCI and Safesea.

In the light of above issues, prospective proposed SCI privatisation is now in a locked stalemate situation.