Malaysian oil tanker taken over commercial dispute, not hijacked: Maritime official

The ship was carrying diesel with an estimated value of RM1.57 million (S$529,000). PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - An oil tanker, which was earlier reported to have been hijacked and sailed into Indonesian waters, was believed to have been taken due to a commercial dispute, Malaysian authorities said on Wednesday (Aug 17).

Vier Harmoni, carrying 900,000 litres of diesel, went missing after leaving the Tanjung Pelepas port on the eastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia on Tuesday before it was relocated in the waters off Batam, Indonesia.

A Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) spokesman confirmed to Reuters that there was no element of terrorism involved in the tanker's disappearance.

The spokesman said early investigations showed the tanker had been taken due to a disagreement between the ship's management and the crew.

The ship was registered in Batam but was being leased by a Malaysian company, the spokesman said.

The MMEA's southern regional chief Admiral Adon Shalan told The Star newspaper there could have been a financial dispute within the company.

"We tried to contact the ship but it went unanswered," he was quoted as saying on the daily's website.

"We believe the ship's captain might have turned off its tracking system as we could not trace it on our radar."

Shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon suggests the ship's transponder has been turned off since June 20.

The ship was carrying diesel with an estimated value of 1.6 million ringgit (S$536,000).

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