On 26 November, an article in Forbes magazine examined the position and raised more questions about the Japanese owner of the Wakashio as Mauritius prepares its multi-billion dollar legal case for damages from the vessel’s insurers. It says that one of the biggest reasons for this opaqueness is the widespread use of secret offshore shell companies by the global shipping industry. While an established Japanese shipping company, all of the owner’s vessels are registered in ‘flags of convenience’ nations, such as Panama, the Marshall Islands and Liberia. Questions have also been raised about what sort of insurance the Wakashio had. The magazine says that there are no less than 10 unanswered questions about ownership of 11 vessels in the Nagashiki Shipping fleet. The article concludes by says that while the various legal cases are likely to drag on for years for the Wakashio, the complex business structures surrounding the owner and operator is a perfect example for why there needs to be global shipping reform.
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