Russia has found a way to evade EU sanctions imposed on it in connection with its aggression against Ukraine. Russian tankers continue to deliver oil to EU ports. They sail under the Liberian flag and are insured by an Indian company.
The case was reported by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a media consortium that tracks organised crime and corruption.
“Oil tankers owned by Russia’s state-backed fleet operator Sovcomflot are still delivering to ports in Europe and earning Moscow much-needed foreign currency, despite Western sanctions aimed at limiting imports of Russian crude oil,” OCCRP informs.
“OCCRP identified more than 18 Sovcomflot tankers, named in a list of vessels in Sovcomflot’s 2020 financial records, which have been crossing the world’s oceans in the past month. Each is carrying on average over $240 million worth of fuel,” we can read on its website.
The 18 tankers, actually owned by Russia’s largest shipping company Sovcomflot, are registered as being owned by its subsidiaries in Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates, with the Indian company Indian Register of Shipping (IRClass) becoming their insurer.
The vessels, sailing unhindered to Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands and South Africa, among others, were identified by OCCRP journalists in May.
“It’s almost impossible to track the ownership back to Russia, especially as Sovcomflot is switching ship names and apparently turning off GPS tracking in certain countries,” Professor Ricardo Soares of Oxford University explains in an interview with OCCRP.
“Liberia is a maritime tax haven and is used as a flag of convenience for vessels” Professor Ricardo Soares of Oxford University adds.
The US and EU imposed sanctions on Sovcomflot in February. They also cover ships that are still under construction, among others in South Korea. What is more, Reuters reports that major Indian shipping insurer IRClass has insured more than 80 vessels managed by Dubai-registered SCF Management Services Ltd, which is listed as a subsidiary of the company on Sovcomflot’s website.
Read the whole OCCRP article here.