London’s High Court has dismissed Nikolaos Livanos’ claims against his cousin Peter Livanos over historic forward freight agreements (FFAs) because they are time-barred.

Three companies controlled by Peter and a former employee were sued by Nikolaos over 41 FFA trades dating from 2007 that were allegedly structured unfairly. The claim was heard at a trial in London in March this year.

Nikolaos’ companies Kyla Shipping and Vega Carriers pursued the claim in London against Freight Trading Ltd (FTL), C Transport Panamax and C Transport Maritime (CTM), which in 2007 were ultimately controlled by Peter Livanos. The fourth defendant is Luigi Cafiero, who in 2007 was an FFA trader employed by CTM and was general manager of FTL. He is today employed by Crystal Maritime.

Nikolaos, who is Peter’s second cousin once removed, sought to claim $31.4m, just under the $32m net loss he incurred between February 2007 and November 2008 on the disputed FFA trades that he says were weighted in his cousin’s favour.

But although Justice Andrew Baker observed “a mighty oak of wrongdoing” by the defendants, particularly Cafiero, he found that Nikolaos’ claim failed because it was filed too late. Legal proceedings were commenced “well beyond” six years after all the causes of action had accrued, Baker wrote in his judgment.

For the same reason, he dismissed any other claims against the defendants for damages for deceit and alleged breaches of fiduciary duty.

The trial sought to determine the nature of the relationship between CTM and Kyla.

The defendants argued that CTM was not trading for Kyla, but was trading as an agent for FTL with Kyla. Nikolaos agreed the terms for each of the Kyla FFAs, including the strike price, over the telephone with Cafiero, according to the defence.

But Baker favoured the claimants’ case that the defendants had structured the historic FFA trades to their own advantage.

“I find that it was not traded by [Nikolaos] on behalf of Kyla in a negotiation with Mr Cafiero on behalf of FTL,” Baker said in his judgment.

“It was put on by Mr Cafiero purportedly for Kyla, but acting against its interests and by way of dishonest opportunism acting in the contrary interests of FTL so as to cause a significant loss he had incurred for FTL’s own account the previous day to be shifted to Kyla.”

Kyla was used to offload FTL’s own positions to other counterparties for FTL’s benefit, according to the judgment. Profits were also “skimmed” from undisclosed and unauthorised differences in contract rates, and positions were set up against associated entities such as C Transport Panamax and C Transport Capesize. Deals were also concluded at levels that deviated from market rates.

Around 70% of Kyla’s aggregate net loss — roughly $21.6m — was suffered on a single trade, a “disastrous bet” placed in June 2008 that the market would rise further, according to the judgment. The trade was held until after Lehman Brothers collapsed in mid-September that year.

Speaking through his lawyer, Nikolaos told TradeWinds that the judgment had given him “closure” even though his claim was time-barred.


Nikolaos Livanos began trading in the FFA market via Vega Carriers around September 2005, after being encouraged by Luigi Cafiero, according to court documents.

After racking up losses, Kyla Shipping and Vega Carriers signed a settlement agreement with Freight Trading Ltd (FTL) in May 2009 to settle the outstanding debt owed. At that time, the FFAs’ validity was not in question.

However, Kyla and Vega did not meet the payment schedule stipulated in the settlement agreement over the two years that followed.

The two companies ended up signing a termination agreement with FTL in May 2012, which ended the settlement agreement and paid off $5.6m of the debt with cash and shares.

This amount is included in the total sum for which Kyla and Vega have sought restitution because they claim the settlement was skewed in FTL’s favour.


“Kyla was absorbing 75% of FTL’s losses and it is extremely saddening that this was done by my extended family’s companies and employees right under the noses of more senior people who one would have expected to intervene,” he said.

A representative of C Transport Panamax Ltd, which is still controlled by Peter Livanos but is largely inactive, told TradeWinds that the firm considers the matter to be “still ongoing”. “In these circumstances, it would be inappropriate for C Transport Panamax Ltd to comment at this stage,” the person said.

CTM told TradeWinds: “CTM has been under new ownership since 2013 and we have significantly changed our structure and compliance practices.

“Although we disagree with aspects of the court’s ruling, we accept the outcome and will continue to ensure we keep our compliance and regulatory measures up to date.

“We are pleased that the ruling recognises the fact that a significant amount of time has elapsed since the events in 2007-8 took place. CTM is a different business and under new ownership/management.”

CTM today is privately owned by the Radziwill family’s Brentwood Shipping.

Cafiero declined to comment on the judgment when approached by TradeWinds.


“This proven fraud certainly wiped out the market gains our business made in the good years up to September 2008, placing us in a difficult position to face the choppy waters of the next decade.

“I am grateful to Sir Justice Baker for taking the time patiently to review the evidence and to explain this fraud to the world in its granular detail. That has given me a degree of closure, even though the Judge was unable to overcome the time-bar matter.

“Kyla [Shipping] was absorbing 75% of FTL’s [Freight Trading Ltd] losses and it is extremely saddening that this was done by my extended family’s companies and employees right under the noses of more senior people who one would have expected to intervene. The fact that all the defendants fought this case tooth and nail, and refused to admit the fraud, even when presented with the clearest evidence, and gave evidence to support a case that was clearly dishonest, gives me no encouragement.

“The past few years there has been chatter in the Greek market that my claim is a fantasy, but finally the truth has emerged. Thanks to my legal team and experts who helped me to uncover the full extent of this fraud in the face of fierce resistance at every procedural stage. I have learned a lot of lessons from this case and I am pleased to say that Kyla has come out strong from this, while justice has prevailed.”