US blacklists four ship owners, tankers over Venezuela ties

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has designated four companies for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy and identified four vessels as blocked property.

The U.S. is sanctioning companies involved in the exploitation of Venezuela’s oil assets to exert pressure on the government of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro, by limiting Maduro’s use of the country’s crude oil exports to bankroll his regime.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.
Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin; Image Credit: The White House/Public Domain

The companies in question are Marshall Islands-based Afranav Maritime Ltd, the registered owner of the Aframax tanker Athens Voyager, built in 2007; Greek Seacomber Ltd, which owns Chios I oil tanker, together with Adamant Maritime Ltd, a Marshall Islands-based company that owns the Seahero tanker.

The three ships continued to lift oil cargoes from Venezuelan ports as recently as mid-February 2020, OFAC said.

The fourth company has been identified as Marshall Islands-based Sanibel Shiptrade, the registered owner of Voyager I.

The ship is a Marshall Islands-flagged crude oil tanker (IMO 9233789) which OFAC alleged had continued to lift oil cargoes from Venezuelan ports as recently as late April 2020.

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.

In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by the designated entities are also blocked.

“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.”