Casino ship company surprised by legal action to sell ship
The management company behind the controversial Niobe Corinthian casino ship claims it was not notified of court action resulting in its sale being ordered.Niobe Corinthian go to auction in order to pay money owed to the three men ship’s captain Pablo Riera Sr, his son Pablo Jr and Juan Aleman.The Royal Gazette yesterday saying: “The principal owner of the vessel has been carrying the expenses for the boat since it arrived in Bermuda wages, food, supplies, shore power and maintenance of the ship to the point where he has lost his personal equity. To his great concern, he was unable to pay the crew. However, to this day he is still trying to pursue all avenues to obtain the crew wages.”Niobe Corinthian without substantial notification and without being the principal negotiator of any proceedings or actions going forward.”
And, it claimed, the owner of the ship whose identity has not been revealed pursued “all avenues” to try to pay the wages and repatriation costs of its Honduran crew.
Chief Justice Richard Ground ordered on August 4 that the
It was the latest twist in the tangled history of the ship, which has been tethered to a dock in St David’s since 2006 because it cannot operate legally under Bermuda’s strict anti-gambling laws.
No representative of Wise Way Enterprises, the company that looks after the ship, was present in court when the order was made. The action was brought by the three-man crew, who were owed more than $40,000 for unpaid wages and their tickets home to Honduras in June.
They were supported during their time on the Island by the Bermuda Industrial Union [BIU], in its capacity as a member of the International Transportation Workers Federation.
BIU representative Louis Somner commented at the time that the men had endured a “nightmare” and were relying on charity to survive.
However, Wise Way issued a statement to
The statement said the owner approached the BIU on behalf of the crew “notwithstanding [the] request of the other vested party in the ship”. However, it said Wise Way was only notified “after the fact” of the legal action.
“We cannot board the ship. We have been advised that the ship will be auctioned or sold,” said the statement. “After being humbly passive, let us state this: we will not tolerate or stand by any further proceedings, actions or exercises regarding the
During the court proceedings earlier this month, the crew members’ lawyer Craig Rothwell said a writ was served on the ship’s owners, Estrellas Management, via a notice taped to the front window of the Panama-registered vessel.
Asking for an order that the boat be sold at auction, and the crew be reimbursed from the profits, Mr Rothwell told the Chief Justice Estrellas Management had not responded to the writ. Asked by the judge if anything was known about Estrellas Management, Mr Rothwell replied: “We don’t know, and it should be immaterial because the writ is issued against the ship.”
Mr Justice Ground made the requested order after satisfying himself the correct procedure had been followed.
The ownership of Estrellas Management is hidden behind two trusts. Asked if she would identify the principal owner, Cheryl Simmons, the Wise Way employee who issued the company’s press statement, said: “He can’t be, yet, nor the other vested party.”
Invited to reply to the statement, Mr Rothwell said: “Service on the ship itself on June 21 2011 was sufficient notification of the court action. Over the following six-week period, Wise Way had the opportunity to file papers with the court in response and also could have attended the hearing on August 4 if they so wished.”
He said of the future of the ship: “No date has been fixed for the auction yet. The first step would be for the value of the vessel to be appraised and we are waiting for this to be arranged. The crew won’t receive their wages and repatriation costs until the ship is sold and the proceeds distributed in accordance with a further court order that will need to be obtained at that time.”