Once home, it ought to have been a happily-ever-after for the survivors of MV Albedo, and those who negotiated their release. However, the Iranian owner of the Malaysian vessel, Omid Khosrojerdi has expressed his reservation on the release.
He accused Citizens Police Liaison Committee chief Ahmed Chinoy of lying about the total amount of ransom paid to the Somali pirates to set free seven Pakistani crew members.
“Mr Chinoy paid only $317,000 to the pirates and not $1.1 million as he claims,” Khosrojerdi told The Express Tribune from Malaysia.
Khosrojerdi said he now is in touch with the pirates to free the rest of the crew members.
He said the information about the total ransom paid by Chinoy was given to him by the pirates themselves and he also checked with his sources in the Malaysian Security Council.
The vessel owner said that while he was happy that the lives of seven crew members were saved, “unfortunately, it has put the lives of the rest of the crew in a dangerous situation.”
The MV Albedo had 22 crew members, including seven Pakistanis, seven Bangladeshi, six Sri Lankans, an Indian and an Iranian. The Indian sailor died after the vessel was taken hostage by the pirates.
The seven Pakistani captive crew of the vessel, including Captain Jawaid Saleem, arrived in Karachi on August 2 after Chinoy struck a deal with the pirates for their release.
Chinoy rubbishes claims
Chinoy, when contacted, rubbished Khosrojerdi’s claims and in turn accused him of corruption.
“An entire amount of $1.1 million collected through our public campaign was spent for the release of the seven Pakistani crew members,” he said.
The CPLC chief said there was no chance to negotiate for less than $1.1 million with the pirates. The release of Pakistani crew members was achieved after tough negotiations, he said.
Chinoy also asked why the vessel owner did not contribute a single dollar to get the captives released when negotiations were taking place.
“Omid was ready to bribe certain officials and pay them hundreds of thousands of dollars, but when it came to giving money for the fund, he told me he will not give a single penny,” he said.
He added that he was not afraid of any legal action anywhere in the world.
Last year, the CPLC chief had been assigned by the vessel owner to negotiate on his behalf with the pirates to have the entire crew released.
However, relations between Khosrojerdi and Chinoy broke down after each side accused the other of backtracking on their commitments to pay their share in the total ransom.
The pirates had demanded $2.85 million for the crew’s release, out of which Pakistan was expected to pay $1.6 million, while the rest was supposed to be taken care of by the owner and Malaysian authorities.
However, when Chinoy said the fundraising campaign had raised only $1.1 million, and not $1.6 million as earlier declared.
There is no way of independently verifying exactly how much ransom money was paid though.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2012.