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            september 23, 2019

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HK rejects US warning on ship violating Iran sanctions


The government of Hong Kong has rejected a warning from the US Department of State that it could be penalised if it does business with a specific tanker, the Pacific Bravo, which is believed to be under way for China.
However, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (CEDB) said the Hong Kong SAR government has been strictly implementing sanctions decided by the UN Security Council on Iran after the United Nations Sanctions (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action -Iran) Regulation was enacted.
But the CEDB said the council has not imposed any restrictions on the export of petroleum from Iran, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
While certain countries may impose unilateral sanctions against certain places based on their own considerations, those sanctions are not within the scope of the UN Security Council sanctions implemented by the HKSAR, the bureau said, apparently referring to the United States.
Washington earlier warned Hong Kong to be on alert for a vessel carrying Iranian petroleum that may seek to stop in the city, adding that any entity providing services to the vessel will be violating US sanctions, Reuters reported.
The warning came as Washington stepped up moves to choke off Iran's oil exports by scrapping waivers it had granted to big buyers of Iranian crude oil, including China.
"Anyone who does business with this ship, the Pacific Bravo, would be exposing themselves to US sanctions," Reuters quoted the official as saying.
According to the Bravo's Equasis record, she is operated by Chinese state-owned giant Cosco Shipping, and her registered owner shares a working address with a Cosco entity in Dalian. The Bravo was purchased by a holding company, transferred to Cosco's management, reflagged and renamed in January.
A US official told Reuters that the real owner of the Bravo is the Bank of Kunlun, itself a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corp's banking division, CNPC Capital. State-owned Bank of Kunlun is believed to be the main financial institution for business transactions between China and Iran.
The fully laden Pacific Bravo abruptly changed course on last Monday to head toward Sri Lanka, the news agency said, citing shipping data from Refinitiv Eikon.
The vessel had earlier identified Indonesia as its intended destination, according to ship-tracking data, but industry sources said it was most likely going to China.
Earlier this month, Reuters reported that a tanker carrying Iranian fuel oil in violation of US sanctions had unloaded the cargo into storage tanks near the Chinese city of Zhoushan.

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