Updated 2pm - Settlement reached
The catamaran used by Malta-Sicily ferry operator Ponte Ferries has been impounded by a judge on the request of a shipping agent who is seeking to collect debts of over €100,000.
But a settlement has now been reached.
The vessel, HCS Artemis, was seized after Mr Justice Toni Abela issued a warrant of arrest last week following an application by shipping agent Focal Maritime Services Limited.
Agency director Godwin Xerri told the court his company was owed nearly €110,000 for services rendered since March.
The unpaid services included market studies it had conducted for Ponte Ferries as well as the use of tug boats during operations.
Mr Justice Abela upheld the request signed by lawyers Jotham Scerri Diacono, Jan Rossi and Luisa Cassar Pullicino, issuing a warrant of arrest on the vessel and ordering Transport Malta to ensure it does not leave its berthing spot at Wine Wharf in the Grand Harbour.
A spokesperson for Ponte Ferries told Times of Malta on Sunday that following the court decree, lawyers for both parties reached an agreement on the payment of the monies due.
The spokesperson said the matter had been resolved commercially between the companies involved and that an application will be filed in court on Monday for the revocation of the arrest warrant issued by the judge against its catamaran.
He said the issue was due to a "misunderstanding" and was glad the issue was resolved quickly.
According to the Malta Business Registry, Ponte Ferries Ltd is owned by Ponte Investments Limited which has Magro Brothers Investments Limited and Merill Invest Limited listed as shareholders. Merill’s directors are Mario Muscat, Julian Zammit Tabona and Michael Zammit Tabona while its shareholders are M.Z.T. Services Limited, Raggio Investments Ltd and Shuttle Limited.
Magro Brothers Investments Limited has Christian Magro, Nicolas Magro and Joanna Mercieca Magro as shareholders.
Fortina Group does not own shares in Ponte Ferries and not all the Zammit Tabonas in the Fortina Group have an interest in Ponte Ferries Limited.
Ponte Ferries started operating its ferry service to Sicily in November last year.
At the end of last month, it announced it was pausing it during the winter months.
Ponte said it had carried more than 32,000 passengers and 6,000 vehicles during the time it spent operating the route, saying people had “responded positively to the introduction of competition between Malta and Sicily”.
Its reputation was dented early on, however, following incessant reports of delays and cancellations of a number of trips. The service has also faced legal challenges for its right to operate the route.
In June last year, Ponte Ferries announced the launch of its Malta-Sicily ferry crossings, providing competition to the long-established operator Virtù Ferries.
However, it was forced to abandon its scheduled August 6, 2021 maiden trip at the eleventh hour because the Italian authorities had not yet issued it with the required berthing permits.
This left many booked passengers stranded. It then resumed the service in November.
Last May its catamaran was detained by Augusta port authorities, leaving a number of passengers stranded in Sicily for two days.
On September 21 it cancelled the trip from Sicily after passengers had already boarded.