Treasury pursues Iran shipping crackdown
A U.S. Treasury Department official Monday outlined a broadening crackdown on cargo moving to and from Iran, including designating three Malta-based shipping companies for sanctions last week.
Stuart Levey, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, wrote in an op-ed published in the Financial Times and available on the Treasury Department’s Web site that “some of Iran’s most dangerous cargo continues to come and go from Iran’s ports, so we must redouble our vigilance over both their domestic shipping lines, and attempts to use third-country shippers and freight forwarders for illicit cargo.
“Iran has consistently used its national maritime carrier, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), to advance its missile programs and to carry other military cargoes. Some shipments have been stopped, and were clear violations of Security Council resolutions — including arms shipments believed to have been destined for Syria, for transfer to Hezbollah,” Levey said.
He said that “using an authority designed to freeze the assets of proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) first brought sanctions against IRISL in 2008 for providing services to the arm of the Iranian military that oversees Iran’s ballistic missile program.
As companies have shunned IRISL, Levey said the company has used practices to conceal its identity and skirt sanctions — including falsifying shipping documents, changing names and nominal ownership of vessels, repainting ships and assigning vessel ownership to front companies outside Iran.
Levey said in June, the United Nations named three IRISL companies for sanctions, and called for additional vigilance of Iranian shipping. It also granted new powers to inspect Iranian ships, and ships carrying cargo to or from Iran. He said the U.S. Treasury has sanctioned five IRISL front companies and 27 vessels, and also identified 71 renamed IRISL vessels. Last month the EU took similar actions.
On Friday, Levey said the Treasury Department designated three Malta-based IRISL companies for sanctions: Marble Shipping Ltd. and Bushehr Shipping Co., two entities directly owned by IRISL; and ISI Maritime Ltd., owned by a previously designated IRISL subsidiary Iran o Hand.
Levey said Iran also uses non-Iranian shippers and freight forwarders to obtain and export dangerous materials and that OFAC has increased enforcement efforts in the shipping and freight forwarding sectors, and has investigated a number of sanctions violations.
He noted the Treasury Department has agreed to significant financial settlements with four U.S. shipping companies, based on alleged violations of sanctions involving third-country trade with sanctioned parties, including Iran:
' Oxbow Carbon and Minerals LLC.
' Maersk Line Ltd., a U.S. subsidiary of A.P. Moller – Maersk A/S (See related story).
' Barwil Agencies NA Inc.
' National Marine Consultants Inc.
Levey said other cases are being investigated. ' Chris Dupin