The following is an English-language version of Levant Network research prepared for Akhbar Alaan. The Levant Networks report has been updated to include TankerTrackers.com info.
A mysterious Cypriot front company owns two tankers reportedly moving fuel from Iran to its ally Venezuela, according to an investigation by Levant Networks prepared for Akhbar Alaan.
On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the Iran-flagged Clavel vessel has set sail for Venezuela after loading with fuel at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
The Reuters report followed MarineTraffic.com’s original discovery that five Iran-flagged oil/chemical tankers were transporting gasoline to Venezuela.
The Clavel tanker has been owned by the Avaro Shipping Company Limited since November 2018, International Maritime Organization records reviewed by Akhbar Alaan revealed.
Avaro Shipping Company Limited was formed in the Cypriot city of Limassol a month before it obtained the Iranian-flagged tanker. In early October, a Chinese national became the owner of Avaro Shipping Company Limited, according to a share transfer document obtained by Levant Networks.
The document shows that on October 4 all the shares of the company were moved from a Cypriot firm to Chengcheng Dai, who was identified as an entrepreneur with an address in Shanghai.
Further corporate documents show that Lebanese citizen Gracia Abiad serves as the director of Avaro Shipping Company Limited. Abiad, who provided an address in Zouk Mosbeh north of Beirut, has had commercial interests in other shipping companies in Cyprus as well as Panama.
Maritime data reveals the link between Avaro Shipping Company Limited and Iran’s national shipping companies.
The International Maritime Organization reveals that the Cypriot company registered an address at the headquarters of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines in the Aseman Tower in Iran’s capital Tehran.
The Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines is also the manager of the Clavel tanker, according to maritime records reviewed by Akhbar Alaan.
Avaro Shipping Company Limited owns two other tankers, the Petunia and Dalia, both managed by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.
The Petunia vessel is sailing toward the Strait of Gibraltar, according to MarineTraffic.com, which shows that the tanker was in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas before entering the Meditteranean Sea.
The Petunia’s route in the direction of the Atlantic Sea matches the profile of the unnamed tankers in the Reuters report headed toward Venezuela.
TankerTrackers.com earlier identified the Petunia as one of the vessels moving fuel to the South American nation.
Meanwhile, the Dalia tanker is currently at Bandar Abbas after arriving at the port on Wednesday.
The three tankers owned by Avaro Shipping Company Limited are among the 122 vessels sanctioned by the US in November 2018 for their links to Iran.
In its press release, the Treasury Department warned that Iran’s shipping industry “is reviving previously employed deceptive practices” to hide the country’s ties to vessels.
Iran has stepped up its assistance to Venezuela, which is suffering from gasoline shortages despite its massive petroleum reserves.
In April, a Venezuelan Oil Ministry official revealed that Iran was flying in supplies to restart a refinery in the Paraguana peninsula.
The US has accused Iran of shipping supplies to rebuild Venezuela’s oil sector in return for payments in gold.