Shipping firms are owed nearly $1 billion by Venezuela in fines for unreturned and late-returned containers, according to Reuters.
The increased involvement of state agencies in running the economy of Venezuela has coincided with this trend of containers not being returned to their owners or being returned late.
Abandoned containers, often with spoilt and perishable goods inside, are common sights in the vicinity of Venezuelan ports.
The debts have been accumulating for around six years and have contributed to the odd phenomenon whereby freight rates to Venezuela are increasing at a time that the world trend is downwards because of declining fuel prices.
It is just the latest instance of alleged late or non-payment in Venezuelan seaborne trade. Last week oilfield services company Schlumberger cut back its involvement in the country because of payment problems with the state oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA).
Last December there was a backlog of tankers at several Venezuelan ports because of a dispute over prepayment contracts between PDVSA and oil suppliers.