Former shipping magnate sentenced to further 24 months in Belfast court
A one-time shipping tycoon who attempted to flee England on a ferry to Belfast was caught after demanding a free ticket because he claimed to know the owner of Stena Line.
Former multi-millionaire Nobu Su, originally from Taiwan, caused such a fuss that suspicious ferry staff called the police and he was arrested, according to court documents.
Mr Su, declared bankrupt last year with debts of £654m, was later jailed after being found guilty on multiple counts of contempt linked to him disobeying numerous court orders amid claims he conspired to hide assets.
And last week he was sentenced to a further 24 months for his continued disregard for court orders.
The former tycoon inherited the shipping firm Taiwan Maritime Transport Co Ltd, later renamed Today Makes Tomorrow (TMT), from his father, Su Ching Wun, who died in 2001.
But the financial crisis from 2008 and Mr Su’s “abject mismanagement” of the company, as stated in a High Court judgment, led to its collapse amid crippling debt. Multiple legal actions have been filed against Su and others, largely since 2014.
For the contempt of court offences, Su was sentenced to a total of 25 months, serving half, following the bizarre attempt to flee to Northern Ireland while under an order limiting his movements.
Lakatamia Shipping, owned by Polys Haji-Ioannou — the brother of EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou — filed action in the High Court in England against Su over claimed unpaid debts now exceeding $60m (£43m).
The shipping company claims Su conspired with his mother, Toshiko Morimoto, or Madam Su, to hide the proceeds from the sale of a villa in Monaco and a private jet.
In a judgment delivered last week, Mr Justice Simon Bryan ruled in favour of the claimant, awarding damages of $857,329 (£619,000) in relation to the jet and €27.1m (£23.13m) for “the Monaco Conspiracy”. He decline to award punitive damages.
But the written judgment also revealed details on how Mr Su attempted to evade justice while under a passport control order.
It happened in January 2019, beginning in Paris when Mr Su “managed to abscond” from the Gare du Nord in Paris. He arrived at Heathrow on January 10th where he was met by police officers who served the passport order and confiscated his passports.
“Mr Su proceeded to lie to those officers about his intended address, falsely stating that he was going to The Dorchester hotel in London,” according to the judgment.
Four days later, following a telephone call from her son, Madam Su transferred 100,000 New Taiwanese Dollars (£2,500) to Mr Su’s credit card.
The following morning, Mr Su took a taxi to Liverpool with a view to fleeing the jurisdiction by ferry to Belfast, the court documents state.
At the terminal, he demanded a free ticket — which costs from £40 — on a Stena Line ferry “on the asserted basis that he was good friends with the owner of the company”.
The staff were suspicious and called the police. He was arrested and spent the night in HMP Liverpool.
In his written judgment, Mr Justice Bryan described how the financial crisis in 2008 was a major blow for the business, but was exacerbated by how Mr Su had run things since the death of his father.
The judge wrote: “What is not in issue is that, after Mr Su succeeded his father, he made sweeping changes to the business, and embarked on massive speculation in the market in forward freight rates, trading in derivative instruments through various companies in the TMT group, including TMT Co Ltd, Liberia (‘TMT Liberia’).
“’Since the financial crisis in 2008 (and as a result of his abject mismanagement of the successful business inherited from his father) he brought that business to its knees.”
In separate proceedings in the High Court in March 2019, Mr Su was first found guilty of 15 instances of contempt of court and sentenced to 21 months in prison, of which he served half. The following year he was sentenced to a further four months, serving two.
According to Judge Sir Michael Burton, who is handling the contempt proceedings, Mr Su “has now committed and admitted 20 further contempts, all in pursuance of a continuous disobedience of court orders”.
“Mr Su vigorously but hopelessly denied the first 15 contempts and did not admit the second set of five, but on this occasion he has very recently admitted all the contempts,” Sir Michael in a judgment delivered also last week as he sentenced him to a further 24 months for another 20 instances of contempt.
Mr Su claimed he was threatened with a knife and witnessed drug taking in prison.