LLOYD’S LIST COMMENT
IOANNIS Mylonakis’ $23m damages claim against former employer Styga and the shipowning Mamidakis clan was, in a way, inevitable after he emerged exonerated in a magic pipe case in which the owner pleaded guilty.
Styga’s righteous defence of itself — perhaps mixed with opprobrium at the seafarer — will now unfold, equally inevitably.
However, this drama is only a small act in a wider opus, and no one from our industry emerges with any credit from it. That it transpired in the Year of the Seafarer makes the realisation even more sordid.
Mr Mylonakis’ 15-month ordeal began when one of his Filipino shipmates blew the whistle. His defence at trial exposed that pre-existing bad blood involving Styga may have encouraged the accuser in this case.
Add two more facts — seafarers blowing the whistle in the US purely for a share of the criminal fine, and the Filipinos versus Europeans undercurrent — and potential corruption in seafarers’ motives starts to come into focus.
As for Styga, it validly claims it paid Mr Mylonakis’ salary while he was held as a defendant, and provided other support. However, all such owners must sign an undertaking to this effect for the government to allow the accused ship to leave US waters and presumably start earning revenues again.
What about the US government? It owns the golden goose. Shipowners’ remarkable obstinacy has enabled Washington to collect more than $200m in magic pipe fines since 1998, and the number of cases shows no sign of abating.
Mr Mylonakis’ complaint has performed the signal service of exposing all these fault lines. More than its unquestionable human dimension, this would be its legacy.