The Lloyd’s List Podcast: Fire, fraud and murder on the high seas
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Shipping’s darker episodes often read like true crime, but the case of the Brilliante Virtusoso raises important questions about the opaque underbelly of the shipping industry as well as the insurance and legal markets that support it. Kit Chellel, one of the writers who pieced together the astounding truth behind one of the most brazen financial frauds in history, joins the podcast this week to discuss his remarkable book that everyone should be taking away to the beach this summer — Dead in the Water.
THE Lloyd’s List Podcast is taking a temporary detour into the true crime genre this week. Our guest Kit Chellel is one of the writers behind the book that everyone in shipping should be taking to the beach with them this summer — Dead in the Water.
The book tells the remarkable tale of the suezmax Brillante Virtuoso, which was apparently attacked by pirates in 2011 and set ablaze. But when David Mockett, a maritime surveyor working for Lloyd’s inspected the damaged vessel, he was left with more questions than answers. Soon after his inspection, he was murdered.
The book, which was the result of a forensic investigation by two journalists from Bloomberg Businessweek, offers a compelling exposé of a $77m fraudulent insurance claim.
Lloyd’s List readers will already be familiar with the ensuing court case which produced a judgment nearly 80,000 words long, concluding that the “orchestrator” of the events that led to the ship’s loss was Marios Iliopoulos, the Athens-based ultimate owner of the vessel. Mr Iliopoulos, the judge wrote, had a motive to want the vessel to suffer a fire to solve the “serious financial difficulties” his companies were facing.
But as Kit Chellel explains, the case is about far more than how the vessel came to catch fire.