Dutch government paid USD 340,000 to free crew of breakbulk vessel
In 2018, the Dutch government was closely involved in paying the equivalent of 280,000 euros in ransom money to Nigerian pirates who were holding the crew of a Dutch cargo ship hostage, reports Dutch newspaper NRC.
A senior Dutch embassy employee secretly took a suitcase full of cash from the Netherlands to the Nigerian capital Abuja. This was kept in the embassy’s safe and later passed on to an intermediary who paid the hijackers.
The payment was related to the hijacking of the general cargo vessel FWN Rapide of the Dutch shipping company ForestWave. The vessel was hijacked by Nigerian pirates in the Gulf of Guinea on 21 April 2018. In the process, ten crew members (Ukrainians and Filipinos) and the Russian captain were kidnapped. A month later, after paying USD 340,000 in cash, the entire crew was released.
The Netherlands violated its own official ransom policy and that of the Nigerian government, which prescribes no cooperation with ransom payments. The cash ransom was kept out of court documents about the hijacking.
The FWN Rapide was attacked by pirates in a large speedboat on 21 April. 11 of the 14 crew members were kidnapped by the pirates. Initially, it was assumed that twelve of the fourteen crew members were taken, but a day after the attack a third crew member was found on the vessel. He had hidden so well that the pirates overlooked him. The ship was on its way from Takoradi in Ghana to Onne, near Port Harcourt in Nigeria, when it was attacked.