Iranian port operator included in US sanctions - Updated

  • Date: 03/07/2011

On the 23rd June, the US Government issued a Joint Statement on Iran Sanctions which added the main provider of Iranian port services, Tidewater Middle East Co, to its Specially Designated Nationals ("SDN") list.

The US government has included Tidewater Middle East on the basis that its ports have been used “to export arms or related materiel in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs)".

Tidewater has operations at seven Iranian ports:
1. Bandar Abbas (Shahid Rajaee Container Terminal)
2. Bandar Imam Khomeini Grain Terminal
3. Bandar Anzali
4. Khorramshahr
5. Assaluyeh
6. Aprin
7. Amir Abad Port Complex

The impact of Tidewater Middle East Co being placed on the US SDN list is that "US persons" and non-US financial institutions cannot have any dealings with Tidewater. The sanctions define "US persons" as US citizens, permanent resident aliens, persons physically in the US, US organised entities and foreign branches.

Members who are subject to the US or EU regime should be aware that paying port dues to a sanctioned port that the ship is calling is likely to be a sanctionable offence.
It should be noted that Tidewater Middle East Co., is separate and distinct from Tidewater Inc., an international shipping company headquartered in the United States and listed on the New York Stock Exchange as TDW. These sanctions are not imposed on Tidewater Inc.

EU sanctions
Tidewater Middle East Co is not yet "designated" under the EU regime but that could change in the near future.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is on the EU designated list. Assuming that Tidewater is indeed owned or controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) , then a separate listing should not be necessary, as the listing of IRGC will encompass all entities owned or controlled by it.
Given the now widely publicized link between Tidewater and the IRGC, an argument that a party had no reasonable cause to suspect that Tidewater was owned by IRGC appears to be more difficult to sustain.

Club cover
As far as the Club’s cover is concerned, any Members who have ships using the sanctioned port should be aware that the Club would not be in a position to pay a claim directly or indirectly to Tidewater Middle East, or to provide security for a claim brought by Tidewater Middle East Co.

A similar restriction applies in relation to claims brought by any of the six port authorities which have been designated under the sanctions regime applicable to Libya  (see previous Club advisory - )

Further information
Reed Smith
Our thanks to Mark Church and Matt Thomas of law firm Reed Smith for contributing to this advisory. We recommend their website for additional papers and advice on sanctions and their impact on ship operators.

US Treasury Press release
US Treasury regularly issues press releases to communicate changes and developments in their sanctions programs. The press release relating to Tidewater Middle East can be found via the following link.

US Treasury OFAC resource centre
The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) provides a useful online resource centre for financial sanctions which provides references for the SDN list, listings of Iran sanctions and other sanctions programs as well as guides on enforcement and penalties.

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