I read with interest your recent article about the Harbour law suit. While not immediately obvious, that incident is actually related to the below press release which you may not be aware of.
The foreign port in question is St Maarten and the local official is your illustrious UP leader, Theo Heyliger.
It is only a question of time before the US Department of Justice makes this public knowledge. Another rock that no one has looked under yet is the sale of St Maarten Port Services N.V. to St Maarten Terminal Services N.V. A business owned and operated by Heyligers family. Through this purchase the Heyliger family now holds a monopoly over the shipping business at the port. An enviable position for a politician with executive control over the Harbour.
What you do with this is up to you of course. I can only tell you what rocks to look under.
AGL: Shipping subsidiary paid off officials
A shipping company owned by AGL Resources Inc. has delivered what could be a headache for the natural gas giant.
AGL reported Oct. 30 it has begun an investigation into payments made to "local officials and other persons" at a foreign port used by AGL's shipping subsidiary, Tropical Shipping, which is one of the largest containerized cargo carriers serving the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
"While the investigation is ongoing, we believe that a number of payments were made over a series of years and the aggregate amount of these payments is less than $200,000 based upon information obtained to date," AGL reported.
AGL (NYSE: GAS) said it has voluntarily disclosed the payments to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. "We will cooperate with any investigation by the DOJ and the SEC," AGL said, adding that it is unable to predict the duration, scope or result of any investigation.
An AGL Resources spokeswoman told Atlanta Business Chronicle on Oct. 30 that the company would not comment on additional specifics related to the investigation at this time. Rick Murrell, CEO of Tropical Shipping, could not be reached for comment.
AGL acquired Tropical Shipping in December 2011 when it bought Nicor Inc. for $2.4 billion, making AGL the nation's largest national gas distribution company based on customer count.
Headquartered in Riviera Beach, Fla., Tropical Shipping has provided containerized cargo transportation services in the Bahamas and Caribbean regions for 50 years.
In 2012, Tropical Shipping had an annual revenue of $342 million and earnings of$8 million.
Through the first nine months of 2013 its revenues were $264 million.
The company employs more than 1,000 people.
On Oct. 30, AGL CEO John Somerhalder said in AGL's third-quarter earnings conference call with analysts that AGL's cargo shipping business has "improved meaningfully."
"We are seeing continued improvement in market conditions, and our volume is higher by 10 percent year-over-year through September," he said, according to a transcript of the call. "While the rate per 20-foot equivalent unit, or TEU, has fallen slightly on average due to pricing action taken last summer, rates for the third quarter were above last year's levels."
Somerhalder did not discuss the Tropical Shipping investigation.
Tropical Shipping helps AGL reduce its taxes. Tropical's operations are structured to allow AGL "to take advantage of certain provisions of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 that provide the opportunity for certain tax savings," AGL's annual report says.
Tropical Shipping transports containerized freight and provides southbound scheduled services from the United States and Canada to 25 ports in the Bahamas and the Caribbean, interisland service between several of the Caribbean ports and operates from St. Thomas and St. Croix as its hubs in the Caribbean. Tropical Shipping also provides northbound shipments from those islands to the United States and Canada. Other related services, such as inland transportation and cargo insurance, are also provided by Tropical Shipping or its other subsidiaries and affiliates.
Tropical Shipping's southbound cargo consists mainly of building materials, food and other necessities for developers, distributors and residents in the Caribbean and the Bahamas, as well as tourist-related shipments intended for use by hotels, resorts and cruise ships. Tropical Shipping's interisland shipments consist primarily of consumer staples and northbound shipments primarily consist of apparel, rum and agricultural products.
On average, approximately 70 percent to 75 percent of Tropical Shipping's total volumes shipped are in the southbound market, 15 percent to 20 percent interisland and 5 percent to 10 percent northbound. Tropical Shipping's contract consists of a southbound shipment of goods from Canada destined mainly for Puerto Rico. The company's cargo shipping segment also includes Triton Container International Ltd., a full-service global leasing company and an owner-lessor of marine intermodal cargo containers.
Phil W. Hudson is a finance, banking and general assignment reporter.