- Companies dealing in Iranian oil products are setting up base in the UAE.
- UAE registration laws don’t require public disclosure.
- The US has increased sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.
The United Arab Emirates has become a new hub for shipping companies looking to avoid US sanctions. This is as revealed in a new Reuters investigative report. It divulges how a collective of shipping companies previously embargoed by the US are taking advantage of UAE registration loopholes.
Some of them had been blacklisted for transporting oil to Venezuela and dealing in sanctioned Iranian petroleum products. Some of the common tactics that they use to bypass these prohibitions include changing company and ship names, as well as obscuring ownership records.
UAE shipping company registration laws allow involved entities to keep their identities private. They are only required to submit their details to the regulatory authority. No public disclosure is required. This has made it easier for Iranian and Venezuelan shell companies to operate in the country.
Muhit Maritime FZE, is among three UAE firms identified by Reuters as being involved in the shipment of Venezuelan crude oil in recent months. Shipping records, as well as tracking data, shows that the companies have transported millions of barrels of oil sold by Venezuela’s state-owned oil-company, PDVSA, since June.
The report reveals that some Iranian firms registered in the UAE have also used registration loopholes to sell banned Iranian oil to other nations while avoiding sanctions. They are able to pull off the scheme by hiding the true source of the oil and other crucial data.
US Blacklists Companies in Vietnam and China for Facilitating Iran-Venezuela Oil Trade
Earlier this month, the United States imposed sanctions on a collective of companies based in Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates, and China, for trading in outlawed Iranian petrochemicals.
According to a statement issued by the US Treasury Department, some of the blacklisted companies included UAE-based Triliance Petrochemical Company, and Vietnam Gas and Chemicals Transportation Corporation.
The Trump administration has been imposing sanctions on Tehran and Venezuela on a near-weekly basis over the past two months. The move by Washington seems to be part of a greater strategy to increase pressure on both countries as the current administration leaves office.
Some political pundits believe that the sanctions are aimed at complicating Joe Biden’s political endeavor to renegotiate a nuclear deal with Tehran and negotiate with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Speaking about the latest round of sanctions aimed at crippling the Iranian oil sector, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin underlined that Iran was using its oil resources to undermine foreign agendas and this is why the US was keen on curtailing its trade. The following is an excerpt from his statement.
“Iran’s petrochemical and petroleum sectors are primary sources of funding for the Iranian regime, which it uses to support its malign domestic and foreign agenda. The United States will act against persons who support illicit actors engaged in the movement of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical sales.”
Despite mounting sanctions, Iran has continued to further its oil-trade with Venezuela. It is currently the Latin nation’s biggest oil supplier.