Caballo Maya: the missing ship. The missing ship.

Lost: 142-meter-long oil services ship

The Caballo Maya is the property of Oceanografía, under investigation for fraud

Mexican authorities are looking for a 142-meter ship, property of the once-private oil services company Oceanografía SA, that is no longer at its mooring in Veracruz.

It was revealed today the offshore supply ship Caballo Maya has disappeared and its current location is unknown. Its loss puts at risk the reactivation process that is currently under way at the company, which was seized last year by the federal government, said a judge involved in the case.

Indications that things were not above board at Oceanografía, a major supplier to Petróleos Mexicanos, surfaced in 2005 when the Federal Auditor’s Office found fake invoices and other irregularities.

A later investigation by Pemex revealed inconsistencies in billing, which led to the discovery last year by banker Citigroup Inc., owner of Mexico’s Banamex, of fraudulent loans: only US $185 million of the collateral backing loans totaling US $585 million could be verified.

That led to the government’s takeover of the company in February last year.

A judge in the case said today the ship is a key piece in reactivating the firm, and that its disappearance threatens its future operations and the employment of thousands of workers.

When the court was advised of the missing ship, it was also told that many of those workers have occupied company facilities in various locations to protest the fact they haven’t been paid.

It was reported on May 20 that Oceanografía would resume operations within three months.

Source: Milenio (sp)

UPDATED August 22:

The ship was located several hours after it was reported missing. It had been turned over to Shipping Group México on July 20 for maintenance work, but no one told the judge.

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