The subsidiary Dan-Bunkering is at the center of the case. They are part of the United Shipping and Trading Company group, which is among the world’s largest in the supply of fuel from ships.
The case concerns 33 trades from 2015 to 2017, worth DKK 648 million. The customers were the two companies Sovfracht and Maritime Assistance. Both were general agents of the Russian navy.
Ships from the Danish company must have delivered the fuel from ship to ship. They refueled Russian vessels in the Mediterranean, whereupon the fuel was transported on to Syria.
Denies criminal guilt
Both Bunker Holding, Dan-Bunkering and Demant deny criminal guilt. They say they did not know the fuel they sold was going to Syria, and also claim that the ban in EU law does not cover foreign governments and the military.
However, US authorities notified Denmark of concerns related to fuel deliveries and that the possible ones went to the war in Syria as early as the end of 2016. The Danish Business Authority, a Danish directorate for business and industry, went to Dan-Bunkering the same year with concerns.
Nevertheless, eight trades must have been completed in 2017, something Danish Økokrim believes Bunker Holding and Bunker Holding manager Demant must have known.
The investigation of the case has taken a very long time and was on the Funen Police for several years, until Danmarks Radio brought it to the public in 2019.
“What the hell”
It is set aside 18 days for the case, which goes to court in Odense. Tuesday was the eighth day of the trial. It was legal manager Finn Hansen in Bunker Holding’s turn to explain himself.
Former Dan-Bunkering director Henrik Zederkof says he was shocked when the Danish Business Authority announced the case.
– I thought «what the hell», he said in court.
He says a lawyer in the parent company Bunker Holding had given the green light to trade could still continue. Hansen, who internally taught the company’s traders how to check sanctions when doing business, explained that he did not suspect any wrongdoing.
“If I had any idea that these trades would end in Syria, I would shout,” he said in his statement.