This publication by the Treasury Department agency complements the extensive guidance issued on May 14 for the shipping industry focused on combating deceptive shipping practices, including those used to avoid US and global sanctions.
“It is strongly recommended that all shipping industry actors take these guidelines into account,” warned Matthew Oresman, a partner at the Washington, DC-based law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman who advises on international law and policy matters.
“Compliance is not mandatory, but non-compliance will almost certainly invite scrutiny and possibly sanctions. Ofac has regularly demonstrated its ability to uncover sanctions evasion tactics.”
Oresman said that the guidance now provides detailed explanations of what Ofac calls deceptive shipping practices. “The guidance responds to repeated complaints from the shipping industry of lack of clarity in this area.”
These include disabling the automatic identification system (AIS) on vessels, so that the ship cannot be located, or falsifying cargo and vessel documents like bills of lading or certificates of origin. The use of complex ownership or management structures as a means of obscuring the shipping business is another deceptive practice. Using false flags or flag hopping is another way to avoid ownership detection.
Similarly, physically altering vessel identification or International Maritime Organisation numbers, or using ship-to-ship transfers to obscure the origin or destination of cargo are well-known deceptive practices now subject to sanctions.
Voyage irregularities, indirect routes, unscheduled detours and transhipment through third countries may be used to conceal or obscure the ultimate destination or origin of cargo or its recipients.
Some of these may place a new burden in terms of information technology or may oblige shipping managers to receive training, Oresman said.
“Shipping managers should however avoid a box-ticking approach to compliance that does not actually fulfil the compliance requirements,” he added.
Oresman said that in the past Cyprus-related companies have been named for non-compliance and sanctioned.
Source: CyprusMail (Click for further of the article)