InterOil Founder Mulacek Sued in Singapore Over Jet Deal

Former InterOil CEO Phil Mulacek
Phil Mulacek, founder and former chief executive officer of InterOil Corp., is seen in this 2007 file photo. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg

InterOil Corp. founder and former Chief Executive Officer Phil Mulacek was sued in Singapore and accused of failing to pay for private jet services for the natural gas explorer’s use in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

Danial Higgins claimed in a lawsuit filed in Singapore High Court that Mulacek and Carlo Civelli, managing director of Clarion Finanz AG, owe him $451,025 and interest for consulting and piloting work. A closed hearing is scheduled for today.

Mulacek and Civelli bought a used Gulfstream jet for $2.26 million through AirLNG Ltd., a company owned by Civelli, to meet the travel requirements of InterOil, Higgins said in court documents. The three men struck an oral agreement in January 2012 for Higgins to service and operate the aircraft, according to court documents.

Mulacek and Civelli denied Higgins’s claims in court filings. The fees Higgins is seeking to recover were included in an aircraft management service agreement they had with Higgins’s company, they said.

Higgins’s incompetence and negligence had caused the aircraft to be deregistered, Mulacek and Civelli said in their papers, resulting in the plane having to be re-registered.

Higgins denied that, and claimed that Mulacek had told him the plane’s ownership shouldn’t be associated with InterOil due to concerns shareholders may raise over unnecessary expenses.

InterOil Uninvolved

“It’s a matter between Mr. Mulacek and Mr. Higgins and doesn’t involve InterOil,” said John Hurst, a spokesman for InterOil, based in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory and run from Cairns, Australia. “InterOil has not used aircraft services involving Mr. Higgins.”

Salem Ibrahim, a lawyer representing Mulacek and Civelli, declined to comment as the case is before the courts. Higgins’s lawyer, Peter Low, declined to comment.

InterOil said in August its discussions with Exxon Mobil Corp. to develop natural gas discoveries in Papua New Guinea were continuing.

InterOil has been searching for international partners to help fund a Papua New Guinea natural gas project since 2009, when Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch sold its 35 percent stake in the venture.

Mulacek retired in April and remains on the board of InterOil.

The case is Danial Patrick Higgins v Phil Emanuel Mulacek, S244/2013. Singapore High Court.

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