Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bolivia poised to de-flag Iranian ships

(Reuters) - Bolivia is poised to strike fifteen vessels linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines off its shipping register just weeks after IRISL found Bolivian replacements for their Maltese and Cypriot flags.

IRISL, its many subsidiaries and their dozens of ships have been sanctioned by the United States, United Nations and the European Union for their suspected role in transporting military equipment for Tehran.

Merchant ships need a flag from national ship registries to gain access to most of the world's ports and many fly those of other countries - especially Panama, Liberia, the Bahamas, Malta and Cyprus - to avoid paying taxes in their home countries.

Despite a 2010 U.N. resolution on dealing with Iranian government front companies, until recently Maltese flags still fluttered at the masts of 48 of 144 IRISL vessels identified by the EU, while Cypriot colors flew above 12.

Malta delisted one Iranian tanker, the M.T.Tour, after reports it had loaded up with sanctioned Syrian crude in late March, and threatened to deflag others found violating EU rules. Read More