A cargo ship that wason board – with an estimated selling value of $ 1.3 billion – belongs to JP Morgan Chase, a source close to the situation confirmed by CBS News. The US Customs and Border Protection Service said it was the largest ship ever seized during its 230 years of existence.
The ship, the MSC Gayane, belongs to JP Morgan Asset Management's clients via a transport fund managed by the bank, a source said. JP Morgan leased the vessel to Mediterranean Shipping Co., a transport company based in Switzerland, which is solely responsible for the ship's crews and operations.
JP Morgan Chase declined to comment on the recording. Mediterranean Shipping Co. said in a statement: "Unfortunately, transport and logistics companies are sometimes affected by traffic problems." The shipping company said it was cooperating with US law enforcement as part of the investigation. Neither JP Morgan Chase nor MSC are involved in a criminal investigation.
The US Department of Justice said agents boarded the ship on June 17 after arriving at the Packer Marine Terminal in Philadelphia and seized 19.76 tonnes of cocaine. On July 4, CBP seized the ship itself for possible confiscation in the United States.
"The seizure of a ship of this size is complex and unprecedented, but it is appropriate because the circumstances here are also unprecedented," said US Attorney William M. McSwain in a statement.
The ship, built in 2018 and flying the flag of Liberia, had crossed South America and the Bahamas before arriving in Philadelphia, according to Marine Traffic.
Several crew members aboard the ship were charged with deliberate and intentional conspiracy between themselves and others to possess cocaine, said the Department of Justice. A federal criminal investigation is underway.