Two Cook Islands-registered fuel tankers are being investigated under suspicion of smuggling oil out from Iran in defiance of international embargoes.

The two oil tankers Ocean Garnet and Free Sea are alleged to have loaded crude or fuel oil in the Middle East Gulf region, while their automatic identification signals were switched off.

Maritime Cook Islands’ representative in Athens, Angelos Chatzigeorgiou, operates the registry on behalf of the local registry.

He said the initial vetting processes for the tankers did not indicate any sanctionable activities and the vessels had valid and current protection and indemnity insurance and other certificates were in order.

Chatzigeorgiou said they had started an investigation and if this found that either vessel engaged in sanctionable activities or deceptive practices, the vessel would be removed from the registry.

The operator of both ships is listed as United Arab Emirates-based Aurum Ship Management FZC, with an Indian-based crewing company Aurum Marine Management Services as the beneficial owner, according to the Lloyd’s List Intelligence.

The Cook Islands Registry “recently joined” the Registry Information Sharing Compact, promoted by the United States Department of State, announced in March.

Flag registries are under pressure to use automatic identification signals to identify whether tankers are using deceptive shipping practices to evade unilateral United States sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.

Source » cookislandsnews