August 24 - Some of the German media reported that yesterday was a reasonable day in court for Niels Stolberg, the ex-head of the now defunct Beluga Group, when the presiding judges in Bremen's regional court ruled that one of three indictments against hi
Presiding judge Monika Schaefer said the chamber at this stage of the trial could find no evidence of fraud in the case of the lesser indictment brought in January 2014 that alleged that Stolberg deliberately deceived a Hamburg based shipowner along with the US private equity company, Oaktree Capital, of millions of dollars. Notwithstanding the opinion of the judges, the state prosecutor of Bremen announced that he will most likely not accept the dismissal of the third indictment by the court.
What is ongoing following yesterday's news is that the two other earlier indictments, which are also of a serious nature, appear to remain alive. One from December 2012, when prosecutors alleged irregularities in the financing of 20 newbuildings, the other from March 2013 concerning a much larger accounting fraud brought by Oaktree Capital.
The trial, which started in January this year after three judges worked on nothing else for some years - such was the complexity of the case - was due to conclude by October 26, but it is expected that a verdict on the other indictments may now come sooner.
The timing of yesterday's announcement followed news that KKR Credit and a sovereign wealth fund had agreed to acquire a portfolio of performing and non-performing shipping loans originated by the German bank Nord/LB and its subsidiary, Bremer Landesbank.
Both banks have been mentioned repeatedly during the above trial as part of explanations of the financial model under which Beluga financed and operated its fleet expansion.
Has the phrase, 'watch this space' ever been so apt?