London - The United States will target shipping companies that are in breach of sanctions and aggressively enforce measures across the globe to clamp down on such practices, a top U.S. official said on Wednesday.
In one of the biggest sanctions actions taken by the U.S. government since its crackdown on Iranian oil exports, Washington imposed sanctions on Chinese companies in late September for alleged involvement in moving crude oil from Iran. COSCO Shipping Tanker (Dalian), a subsidiary of China’s state-owned shipping group COSCO, was one of the companies blacklisted.
Concern over shippers falling foul of U.S. sanctions sent oil freight costs to record highs around the world, adding millions of dollars to the cost of every voyage. Washington has also used sanctions on other countries including Venezuela and North Korea. David Peyman, deputy assistant secretary of state for counter threat finance and sanctions, said ships were “the key artery to evade sanctions”.
“If behavior doesn’t change, notwithstanding our very frank conversations and clear messages, then we do look toward fully and aggressively and consistently enforcing U.S. sanctions across the board as a means to change behavior of bad actors,” he told reporters on a visit to London.
Peyman, who was holding meetings with shipping officials in Europe, said the maritime supply chain was complex but companies needed to invest in more due diligence and take proactive measures to avoid being caught in potential sanctions breaches. “It’s costly to invest in due diligence and I know business leaders don’t see value added,” said Peyman, who leads the U.S. Office of Economic Sanctions Policy and Implementation. “Unfortunately, they will see value added when there are hard costs to bear including their business potentially going out of business because of a designation or enforcement action.”