US’s Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed six sanctions on six Chinese companies, amongst them COSCO, for transporting oil from Iran in defiance of sanctions set in place in November 2018. Sanctioned COSCO affects the shipping industry and those oil companies and traders who have entered agreements with.
The US Treasury Department imposed sanctions against China Concord Petroleum Co., Limited, Kunlun Shipping Company Limited, Pegasus 88 Limited, and COSCO Shipping Tanker (Dalian) Seaman & Ship Management Co, Ltd.
The US also imposed sanction to two more Chinese companies, which own or control one or more of the four companies stated above and were informed of their sanctionable conduct: Kunlun Holding Company Ltd. and COSCO Shipping Tanker (Dalian) Co., Ltd.
The US Treasure commented that they
met the criteria for the imposition of sanctions under E.O. 13846.
Moreover, US imposed sanctions to five individuals who are executive officers to one or more of the companies above: Bin Xu, Yi Li, Yu Hua Mao, Luqian Shen, and Yazhou Xu.
US highlights that the above sanctions do not affect COSCO’s other subsidiaries or affiliates, provided that such entities are not owned 50% or more in the aggregate by one or more blocked persons.
As a result US civilians are not prohibited from dealing with COSCO, its non-blocked subsidiaries, or non-blocked affiliates to the extent the proposed dealings do not involve any blocked person, or any other activities prohibited pursuant to any OFAC sanctions authorities. Similarly, non-US persons do not face sanctions risk for engaging in transactions with COSCO, its non-blocked subsidiaries, or non-blocked affiliates.
In August, the US President, Donald Trump, issued an Executive Order which essentially re-imposed the secondary sanctions against Iran.
#Effects of US sanctions against COSCO#
The US’s sanctions against COSCO resulted to chaos in the shipping industry as many were the oil companies and traders who rejected tonnage connected with COSCO, whereas crude tanker rates surged. Watson Farley and Williams Law firm provides an insight into the effects in the shipping sector.
- The 50% rule
The law firm highlights that in light of the the 50% rule (as explained above) due to the close proximity of the sanctioned entities, transactions with a non-sanctioned COSCO entity have to be carefully examined to ensure that no violations are taking place.
For example, a transaction with a non-sanctioned COSCO entity in which a sanctioned entity or individual is involved could be treated as an indirect violation of sanctions
… added the Law firm.
- US, non-US parties and their agreements with COSCO
Also, the firm recommends that all US and non US parties that have entered into agreements with COSCO Tanker, COSCO Management or any of the other sanctioned entities should review their deals, acknowledge what resources they have and how to further proceed accordingly.
‘US persons that continue to deal with these entities are in violation of US sanctions law. Non-US persons that continue to deal with these entities are at risk of themselves becoming sanctioned.’
- US, non-US parties and their agreements with non-sanctioned COSCO entities
In addition, those who have entered into agreements with non-sanctioned COSCO entities have to carefully examine their agreements too, as many loan and other agreements include language providing that ownership or control of, or ‘affiliation’ with a sanctioned entity constitutes a breach of the agreement. An agreement that contained such a provision may permit the counterparty to terminate or pursue other remedies.