US targets Emirati shipmanager and 13 vessels in latest round of Iran-related sanctions

The US has imposed sanctions on a United Arab Emirates-based shipmanager and 13 vessels linked to its role in shipping commodities on behalf of Iran’s military.

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said Thursday that Dubai-based Oceanlink Maritime facilitated shipments of unspecified Iranian commodities on behalf of Iran’s Armed Forces General Staff (AFGS) and Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL).

OFAC added that the Oceanlink Maritime-managed VLCC Hecate recently loaded Iranian crude valued at more than $100m in a ship-to-ship transfer. The transfer occurred on March 25, according to OFAC. The commodities were transferred from the VLCC Dover, a previously designated vessel operated by the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) on behalf of Iran’s Sepehr Energy, to the Hecate “using obfuscation techniques to conceal the locations of the vessels,” OFAC said.

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In addition to Hecate, 12 ships managed by Oceanlink Maritime, including VLCCs, product tankers and LPG carriers, were identified as blocked property. The vessels, flagged in Comoros, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, the Cook Islands, and Panama “are deeply involved in shipping Iranian commodities, including on behalf of Iran’s military,” the Treasury Department said, adding that some had been involved in this activity as recently as March of this year. 

“We are focused on disrupting Iran’s ability to finance its terrorist proxy and partner groups and support to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” said undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence Brian Nelson, adding: “The United States will continue to use our full range of tools to target the illicit funding streams that enable Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region and around the world.”

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In addition, OFAC updated its sanctions list regarding the controversial Young Yong VLCC, which ran aground near a critical gas pipeline that supplies gas to Singapore in October 2022 and now goes under the name Saint Light, “possibly to obfuscate its identity”. The Barbados-flagged 306,300 dwt ship, for which OFAC said it also operates as Stellar Oracle, has been accused of conducting a ship-to-ship transfer of over $100m worth of Iranian crude on March 27 with a sanctioned NITC-operated Hawk. The Hawk had loaded the same cargo on March 22 from another sanctioned VLCC, the Kohana.

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