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Insurer warns of Iran oil 'sophisticated smuggling operation'

Insurer warns of Iran oil 'sophisticated smuggling operation'
The West of England P & I Club has warned its members of recent attempts to export sanctioned Iranian crude by ship-to-ship (STS) transfer at the UAE's Khor Fakkan.

The risk to owners and operators is significant, given that the sanctions against Iran render the club unable to insure vessels carrying oil from Iran. Carrying such a cargo to countries without a US waiver could also trigger enforcement action against the vessel, its owners and related parties by US authorities.

Under the scam, documentation may be produced claiming that the oil cargo was loaded at Basra, but such paperwork could be forged. The club urged extreme caution from its members when undertaking STS transfers in the region, and recommended verifying the origin of cargoes with port agents.

"On recent occasions the supplying vessels loaded the cargo in Iran before shuttling across the Straits of Hormuz to supply vessels with oil - ostensibly from Iraq - destined for countries that do not benefit from a waiver under applicable US sanctions legislation," the club stated in a circular to its members.

"There is evidence of a sophisticated smuggling operation and those responsible may go to considerable lengths to disguise the true origin of the cargo. Cargo documentation is likely to appear credible and there may be no evidence of any designated parties being involved."