A file photo ship An Bien-89-ALCI. Photo credit: marinetraffic.com
Sixteen Vietnamese crew members who were arrested last month in the Philippines for smuggling rice have returned to the country safely, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Thursday, citing the ship's owner.
Philippine authorities agreed to release the An Bien 89 ship and its crew, following negotiations with the Vietnamese embassy, the ship's owner Binh Minh Sea Transport and Trade JSC, and other relevant agencies, it said.
They confiscated all the 152,000 sacks of rice found on the vessel, which was seized on February 22 for not having rice trading licenses.
Binh Minh, headquartered in the northern city of Hai Phong, acquired the ship from Agribank Financial Leasing Company No. 1, a subsidiary of state-owned lender Agribank, according to the ministry.