June 1, 2023

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The “bad boy” of Greek shipping that stocks Russian oil

until the “bad kid From charging distinguishes it George Economou The American newspaper Wall Street JournalAnd who is highly critical of his activities The 70-year-old ship owner – Especially for “pranks” with Russia and Russian energy companies.

While most western companies have stopped shipping Russian oil After the outbreak of war in UkraineAccording to the WSJ, the Greek businessman has not only rebounded, but has doubled the volumes he trades.

His new lucrative bet, according to the American publication, is to claim a business serving a company Economic interests of both Russia and the United StatesBut it is… treacherous to many competitors.

the TMS vectorsOne of Mr. Economou’s companies has moved tens of millions of barrels of Russian crude and fuel since Moscow invaded Ukraine. This makes TMS second largest “player” In the Russian oil transportation business, it is behind the Russian state-owned company Sovcom Float.

200 shipments of Russian oil

Based on the Wall Street Journal article, the Vector Mr. Economus executed At least 200 trips From the day of the Russian invasion, that is, from February 24, 2022.

It’s a profitable business, it pays off Earnings from 4 to 5 million dollars per track 60 days from the Baltic Sea to India, the most common route.

Mr. Economou declined to comment on the WSJ report, while a representative for TMS said the company does not deal with Mr. Economou’s professional or personal life.

These transportations of oil and fuel, of course, help Russia’s budget, of course It also benefits the 70-year-old ship owner – writes in the American Gazette.

“Everyone understands what is dark and what is right,” declares S Oleg UstinkoEconomic Adviser to the President of Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelensky. Kiev, as the Wall Street Journal writes, has lobbied repeatedly to limit Russian transfers, to no avail. “You are sending ‘blood’ money to the Putin regime, which is committing war crimes against Ukrainians,” comments Ustenko.

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the National Service of Ukraine for Prevention of Corruption Last July he asked Mr. Economou and TMS to stop trading Russian oil. But he did not receive any response. The Ukrainian agency then placed TMS at the top of the list it referred to as “international sponsors of war”.

For their part, Greek government officials confirmed that the country is complying with the sanctions, but does not have the power to stop the oil trade in Greece international waters.

US involvement

The problem with Kiev is that the United States wants Russian oil to continue flowing in order to keep oil prices low. world prices.

In this context, Washington was included in the text exception penalties, Under which Russian oil can travel on Western ships, as long as the shipments do not directly profit the Kremlin.

So, Ship owners hire their tankers For traders – instead of buying and selling oil themselves.

Provided, of course, that they keep the required documents from their customers, proving that the quoted price of oil does not exceed the ceiling set by the G7.

Shipowners in the United States and Northern Europe have chosen to withdraw from the activity entirely for fear of reputational damage or potential sanctions. Mr. Economou, on the contrary, seems to have Minimal misgivings.

How do you deal with the Russians?

The sanctions regime against Moscow, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, found Mr. Economou on the right side of the law.

Many TMS vessels in Russian waters have been insured before Jared, a Norwegian insurance company. This means that they are trading oil at prices below the G7 ceiling. In order to stay within the law, TMS must provide documentation proving that the oil being transported does not violate the G7 price limit.

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the Lukoilwhich is considered the second largest Russian oil company (after Rosneft), has a trading arm called litasco. It is one of the main TMS clients.

And this is because this particular company More than half of the TMS carriers are charteredWhich left Russian ports in the first two months of 2023, bound for India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Bulgaria.

A subsidiary of the Russian energy giant Gazprom It has also chartered TMS vessels in recent months.

Bad boy reputation

Mr. Economou, who has been living between Greece and New York for the past 10 years, made his fortune thanks to Geopolitical crises in the twentieth century. The same He bought his first boat in 1986.

In the nineties arrived Wall StreetHe is looking for money and chasing his fortune. He was considered the new face of Greek shipping, which was slowly distancing itself from previous generations of shipowners.

in 1998, Alpha Cargo Mr. Economou issued one of the Junk bonds first Shipping company raised 175 million dollars. The navigational magazine Lloyd’s List described him as “one of the rising stars of Athens and Piraeus”.

Alpha went bankrupt a year later. Bondholders were devastated, receiving just 37 cents on the dollar under an outlandish deal involving Economou. It totaled $30 millionBuying company ships at competitive prices.

The Greek shipowner stated that Alpha was a “victim” of the recession. This deal, in fact, gave him the nickname “Bad Boy” for shipping. The name he mentioned later did not bother him.

It was the beginning of a difficult relationship between Mr. Economou and Wall Street.

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In 2005, it was listed on NASDAQ dry vesselswho held the position of managing director and owned a small percentage of it. The stock took off early as the economic boom in China fueled shipping and commodities. Thus he became Mr. Economou Billionair.

But this enrichment was not without shades, as they were presented at least two shareholder issues, Who talked about stock manipulation. But US courts have dismissed the charges.

In 2019, Mr. Oikonomou acquired all the shares in Dryships, from which he was taken New York Stock Exchange.

Two years ago, in 2017, his former partner, Angela Ismail, sued, for $240 million. Her attorney stated at the time in a New York court that Mr. Economou would not have become a billionaire without her help.

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