CMA CGM creates Iran compliance desk
French container line CMA CGM is setting up an Iran compliance desk in the wake of a falsified shipment in March that actually contained weapons bound for Iran, the carrier said Wednesday.
The desk is part of a larger initiative by the line to better tackle security and regulatory hurdles posed by nations under international sanctions. CMA CGM also said it will set up a new security and regulations section on its corporate Web site.
On Monday, the Jerusalem Post reported the development of the French line’s Iran compliance desk. On March 15, Israeli commandos intercepted a CMA CGM Med feeder vessel, the 1,678-TEU Victoria, bound for Alexandria, Egypt. Israel said it had reasons to suspect a shipment of weapons bound for militants in Iran was onboard, a suspicion confirmed during the raid.
CMA CGM said the container in which the weapons were found was falsely labeled by the shippers as a shipment of lentils. It later said shipping lines only had so much ability to ensure the cargo they carry corresponds truthfully with the corresponding bills of lading.
A few days before the incident, the activist group United Against Nuclear Iran urged CMA CGM to cut business ties with Iran.
Since the incident, some members of Congress have called on CMA CGM to be sanctioned unless the line stops serving Iranian ports. American Shipper asked the line Tuesday by e-mail whether it would consider not serving Iranian ports in the future, but the line did not respond. It did issue a press release Wednesday outlining the functions of the new Iran compliance desk.
Specifically, CMA CGM said the Iran compliance desk will:
' Verify the identity of the parties in the transport contract via the group's information systems.
' Verify the legality of the transported cargo.
' Obtain a letter of indemnity from the shipper confirming the legality of the shipment and undertaking to indemnify the carrier for any liability incurred in transporting it to Iran.
' Regularly inspect any cargo loaded in Iran.
' Ensure container traceability, so that contraband cargo may be impounded and returned to the shipper.
The French line said its compliance initiatives will also apply to shipments to and from Ivory Coast and Libya.
“In this way, CMA CGM customers and prospects, as well as outside observers, can now easily find, clearly and transparently, the main regulations governing shipments to and from Ivory Coast, Libya and Iran,' the carrier said.