Indonesian naval officers have reportedly asked for $375,000 payment to release an oil tanker they detained last week for stopping illegally in the country’s waters.
The Nord Joy fuel tanker was boarded by armed navy personnel on May 30 while anchored in Indonesian waters to the east of the Singapore Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, sources told Reuters.
Indonesian navy spokesman Julius Widjojono confirmed navy personnel had detained the Nord Joy on suspicion of anchoring in Indonesian waters without a permit, violating Indonesian sea passage rights and sailing without a national flag.
However, he denied that naval officers had demanded money for its release, saying such an act would be illegal. “It is strictly prohibited,” he said, without responding to requests for further details.
“The initial information is that (the case) is still in the initial investigation process at Batam naval base,” he said.
Under Indonesian law, anchoring without a permit carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison for the captain of a vessel and a 200 million rupiah ($13,840) fine, Widjojono said.
The Indonesian navy said in November that there had been an increase in the number of detentions for anchoring without permission, deviating from the sailing route or stopping mid-course for an unreasonable amount of time.
Vessels were either released due to insufficient evidence or the cases were processed through the Indonesian courts and no payments were made to the navy or its staff, Widjojono said.
The Nord Joy is a 183-metre Panama-flagged vessel that can carry up to 350,000 barrels of petroleum products. Reuters has been unable to determine who owns the vessel.
Synergy Group, the company based in Singapore that manages the Nord Joy, did not respond to questions about the alleged request by navy staff for an unofficial payment.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell