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OFAC fires another sanctions salvo at Venezuelan oil tankers

The Treasury Department agency is closely monitoring vessel name changes used by Venezuelan and Cuban authorities to sidestep U.S. trade sanctions.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has blacklisted another six tankers operated by the Venezuelan government-controlled oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA).

OFAC said it has targeted Venezuelan oil shipments because the proceeds from the sales are used to finance the Maduro regime.

The blacklisted vessels are the Icaro, Luisa Caceres de Arismendi, Manuela Saenz, Paramaconi, Terepaima and Yare. All but the Icaro, which is registered to Panama, operate under the Venezuelan flag.

The agency also identified the Greek-flagged tanker Esperanza as blocked property of Caroil Transport Marine Ltd. The vessel previously had been listed on OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List as the Nedas on April 12.

“Cuba and the former Maduro regime continue trying to circumvent sanctions by changing the names of vessels and facilitating the movement of oil from Venezuela to Cuba,” said Treasury Deputy Secretary Justin Muzinich in a statement.

OFAC said Cuba received Venezuelan oil on the blocked tankers this fall. During this same time period, PdVSA invoiced Cubametales, the Cuban state-run oil import and export company, for roughly 1.3 million barrels of fuel oil delivered this summer. On July 3, OFAC added Cubametales to the SDN List.

The money received from the oil shipments to Cuba was transferred to a Russian bank account, OFAC said.

OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit U.S. business transactions with entities and persons placed on the SDN List. 

Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.