Container transhipment business in the Mediterranean region is upset by a spy story emerging in the port of Gioia Tauro in southern Italy. The local Medcenter Container Terminal, jointly owned by Contship Italia and MSC group, has just sent a petition to the local court in Gioia Tauro asking how and why a delegation of six Greeks headed by the former Greek energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis entered and visited the container terminal without Contship permission. During the tour around the quays these persons were driven by a politician from the municipality of Gioia Tauro and by representatives of the police.
In the letter to the Public Prosecutors’ Office signed by Contship’s chairman, Cecilia Eckelmann Battistello, seen by Splash it’s written: “Such a long-lasting visit (more than one hour’s time) inside the terminal and without permission must be planned in order to have an in-depth observation of MCT’s work organisation, equipments and range of clients. All these aspects are part of Contship’s know how and are protected by secrecy rules under national law”.
The Italian terminal operator’s document speaks specifically of possible “industrial espionage” with Lafazanis described by Italian local media as an expert of port infrastructure and possibly acting on behalf of Gioia Tauro’s main competitor.
“Since some part of the delegation were from Greece we must highlight that the port of Piraeus operated a dumping fares strategy against other competitors in the Mediterranean transhipment market region and the local government had also been fined by the European Commission for state aids granted to the Piraeus Container Terminal ,” Contship added in its petition.
China Cosco Shipping, operator of the Piraeus Container Terminal, remains quiet on the industrial espionage charges.