A South Korean ship seized by the authorities in February as reimbursement for outstanding pollution fines owed by its owner was auctioned on Wednesday, the Ministry of Justice said.
The Samho Onyx fetched NT$146.38 million (US$5.06 million) and the money will be used to cover fines of more than NT$64.5 million levied on the company over a benzene spill in Taiwanese waters, outstanding salaries for the crew and berthing charges.
The government had tried to sell the ship twice before, in June and last month, with reserve prices of NT$243 million and NT$163 million respectively, but was unable to attract any bidders.
The reserve price of the latest auction was set at about NT$133 million and the only bidder, newly established Taipei-based Global Energy Maritime Corp, won the bid, the ministry said.
Global Energy Maritime is a joint venture involving state-run CPC Corp, U-Ming Marine Transport Corp and Chinese Maritime Transport.
The Samho Brother, owned by South Korea’s Samho Shipping, sank off the coast of Hsinchu County in October 2005, spilling its cargo of 2,812 tonnes of benzene.
The company was fined about 53 times by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) between 2005 and 2009, when the company finished cleaning the affected area, a total of NT$79.5 million.
The company had paid more than NT$10 million in fines, but failed to clear all its fines, prompting officials from the ministry and the EPA to detain the Samho Onyx when it entered Mailiao Harbor, Yunlin County, earlier this year.