Saturday July 13, 2024

KPT seizes vessel carrying suspected Iranian oil

By Javed Mirza
February 28, 2021

KARACHI: Authorities at the Karachi port have detained an oil vessel for declaring the port of loading as Oman and Iraq instead of Iran where the petroleum products were originally loaded on it, sources said on Saturday.

The East Wind Shipping Company stated in the manifest that the cargo of the vessel – MT MORIOKA –had been loaded from Sohar, Oman and Khor Al Zubair, Iraq. The vessel was rummaged at Karachi port and the in-charge of the conveyance admitted the goods were actually loaded from BIK, Iran and of Iranian origin.

Sources said the captain of the vessel also admitted that the vessel never went to Oman or Iraq as was given in the Last Port of Call lists. The vessel has violated the port of origin and BIK, Iran is under various sanctions of the international community and there is no banking channel through which the money could have been transferred.

Moreover, the price of Iranian cargo is far less than the Omani products and the amount transferred in this case is also bound to be huge. “If the matter is analysed it is suspected that huge amount has been or will be transferred over and above the legitimate price of the cargo, as such money has been intended to be laundered through state channels,” said an expert requesting anonymity.

Further scrutiny of the letter of credit document reveals that this contract was bound for cargo originating from Oman and nowhere else as such the violation of letter of credit has also been done by the importers.

“The vessel is still at the port and has not been allowed to discharge yet or leave the port without prior permission till the process of recording of statements of all crew members is completed,” added the expert. Sources said customs authorities have also approached State Bank of Pakistan to nominate a focal person to assist in the inquiry.

Neighbouring Iran wants to export petrochemical, steel and liquefied petroleum products to Pakistan in return of rice, meat and other agriculture products in a barter trade arrangement, its top official said. Iran is willing to start barter trade with Pakistan with energy and agriculture sectors having potential to increase exports and imports, Iranian Consul General Reza Nazeri said in September last during a meeting with businessmen. Iranian government is ready to facilitate Pakistan’s private sector to promote bilateral trade and investment, he said.

The volume of two-way trade between Pakistan and Iran is negligible. The mutual trade of two countries does not match their respective potentials. Currently, the bilateral trade stands at $359 million including exports to Iran amounting to $36 million against its imports at $323 million.