Vietnam shipping giant seeks negotiations with S.Korean contractor after exhausting all options

Thanh Nien News

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A Vinalines ship A Vinalines ship


The troubled state-owned shipping giant Vinalines is seeking to negotiate a settlement with a South Korean company that was awarded a $3 million judgement by a Hanoi court. 
The South Korean firm had sued Vinalines over a consignment of steel it reportedly rejected without proper cause. 
In a note Vinalines sent to the Ministry of Transport and the Government Office, the company said it is revising financial figures in a contract with Seoul-based SK Engineering and Construction (SK E&C) and has repeatedly asked the company to sit down for talks. 
On October 3, the Hanoi People’s Court upheld a decision by the Vietnam International Arbitration Center which ordered Vinalines to pay VND65 billion (US$3.057 million) to SK E&C.
Last January, the VIAC ordered Vinalines to pay for 544 steel poles that SK E&C delivered to the site of the future Van Phong International Transshipment Port in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa before the project was suspended in September 2010.
Vinalines lodged a complaint to the court soon afterward, saying it had rejected the consignment due to the poor quality of the steel after having paid a VND70 billion advance on the order. 
The Hanoi court said Vinalines failed to produce evidence that the poles were not made to the agreed upon specifications. The court barred both parties from filing further appeals and gave Vinalines 30 days to settle the dispute with SK E&C or pay the full amount. 
In March, SK E&C asked the South Korean government to seize two Vinalines ships – Vinalines Sky and Vinalines Trader – after the arbitration ruling. 
Vinalines has remained in local headlines since the middle of 2012 when its former chairman, Duong Chi Dung, fled the country during an investigation into a $17 million graft case. 
Dung and several of his fellow executives were accused of accepting kickbacks from a Russian shipyard to buy an old used dock which cost the state $10.5 million to repair. 
In May, the Supreme People’s Court upheld death sentences handed to Dung and the former general director Mai Van Phuc after convicting them of embezzling VND10 billion ($474,000) each. 
Eight other Vinalines employees received jail terms of 22 years and under. 
Vinalines has had to absorb the debt-laden subsidiaries of former shipbuilder Vinashin and reported $117 million in losses in 2012.

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