U.S. Sanctions Four Shipping Companies and Ships Over Venezuelan Oil

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The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced sanction violations against four companies and identified four vessels as blocked property due to their operations with Venezuela’s oil industry.

In announcing the actions, the official statement said, “The United States reiterates that the exploitation of Venezuela’s oil assets for the benefit of the illegitimate regime of President Nicolas Maduro is unacceptable, and those that facilitate such activity risk losing access to the U.S. financial system.”

The actions were taken against tankers managed from Greece, including two VLCCs as well as two smaller tankers, all of which had sailed from Venezuela between February and April of this year.

The timing of this current action was seen as a response to the recent shipment of gasoline from Iran to Venezuela. The last of the five tankers carry the gasoline had reached Venezuela while government officials taunted the Americans over the shipment. Iran also joined in calling for the support of the IMO against the United States’ perceived threats to interfere with the shipping. Iranian officials also mocked the U.S. administration saying they were prepared to continue the gasoline shipments if requested by Venezuela.

“The illegitimate Maduro regime has enlisted the help of maritime companies and their vessels to continue the exploitation of Venezuela’s natural resources for the regime’s profit,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The United States will continue to target those who support this corrupt regime and contribute to the suffering of the Venezuelan people.”

Today’s action further targets Venezuela’s oil sector, which the United States is seeking to cripple as it continues to provide financial resources to the regime of President Maduro.  

The actions specifically cited:

  • Afranav Maritime Ltd, based in the Marshall Islands as the registered owner of the Athens Voyager, a ship that sailed with Venezuelan oil as recently as mid-February
  • Seacomber Ltd, based in Greece as the registered owner of the Chios I, a Maltese flagged crude oil tanker that sailed with Venezuelan oil as recently as mid- to late-February
  • Adamant Maritime Ltd, based in the Marshall Islands as the registered owner of the Seahero, a Bahamian flagged crude oil tanker that has sailed with oil from Venezuela as recently as late February
  • Sanibel Shiptrade Ltd, based in the Marshall Islands as the registered owner of the vessel Voyager I, a Marshall Islands flagged crude oil tanker that sailed from Venezuelan ports as recently as late April 2020

In announcing the action, the United States said, “all property and interests in property of these entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.” OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or those within the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

Last month, the United States had repeated its warning to shippers on illegal shipping practices saying that they could face sanctions violations.

In February, the U.S. took a similar action designating Rosneft Trading, the Swiss-incorporated oil brokerage division of Russian oil company Rosneft, for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy. Late in 2019, the U.S. also blacklisted another six vessels for connections to the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, which is sanctioned for its role in supporting the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

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