Spanish – The Nicolás Maduro regime has worryingly intensified the creation of new strategies to evade US sanctions. These tactics now include allies in the Middle East. These pacts seek to establish an international, as well as an illegal, scheme to market Venezuelan oil and provide an economic breather to Chavista personnel.
To the duo that serves as a support for the Chavista tyranny abroad, that is, China and Russia, we can now add the connection of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to Reuters. Specifically, Reuters points to at least three Emirati companies that have supported Maduro.
This assertion arises after a cross of data from internal documents of the Venezuelan state oil company, known as PDVSA, with the vessel-tracking data provided by the firm Refinitiv Eikon. Such figures led to the determination that these companies have transported millions of barrels of Venezuelan oil.
“The activity shows how the UAE, one of Washington’s closest allies in the Middle East, is a hub for companies helping Venezuela skirt American sanctions,” Reuters adds.
Phantom companies allied with the regime
The companies involved are Muhit Maritime, Issa Shipping FZE, and Asia Charm Lt. Interestingly, these Emirati entities aren’t well-known in the area of oil transportation. In fact, their fleets are relatively new, having been assembled since early 2019. The identity of their owners is also a mystery. Nor are there any details of the companies included in the UAE’s corporate registry.
Also, these corporations have vessels that have made almost exclusively trips to Venezuela since then, points out the tanker monitoring data collected by Reuters. Similarly, they emerge as ships responsible for 3.9% of Venezuelan oil exports. The cost of these services is estimated at 208.5 million USD.
The question arises almost automatically: How do inexperienced companies have the instruments to become a client of PDVSA? The procedure is focused on obtaining vessels sanctioned by the United States Department of the Treasury. Upon obtaining the property, the companies rename them so that they can maintain them by illegally commercializing Venezuelan oil.
For example, let’s take a look at Muhit Maritime. Between July and August, this company took over the management of three vessels that bought from a company whose tankers were sanctioned by the United States. Subsequently, the vessels were renamed and began operations, which, in this case, according to documents cited by Reuters, show around 40 million USD in operations.
“A shipping document shows that on July 31, the newly rebranded Almada set sail carrying some 650,000 barrels of Venezuelan Boscan crude after a ship-to-ship transfer from the Alasfal off Venezuela’s coast. Three weeks later, on Aug. 21, the Alsatayir loaded 650,000 barrels of Boscan crude in a similar ship-to-ship transfer,” the Reuters article also states.
The other two companies mentioned have also used a similar method and handled Venezuelan crude oil in the past.
PDVSA also involves its clients in gimmicks
It is not uncommon to find the name of PDVSA in corruption schemes. Since President Donald Trump increased the sanctions against the Chavista leaders in this Caribbean country, the opaque businesses of the regime have multiplied exponentially.
At this moment, the Venezuelan state oil company emerges as one of Nicolás Maduro’s main assets to carry out international business in exchange for oil at great discounts. A tactic they use to bring in clients who dare to participate in any transaction.
An example of this was the series of operations where the Thai company Tipco Asphalt, one of the main clients of the state oil company, was used as a processor of third party bill payments for PDVSA, according to an AP report.
Tipco performed these functions for PDVSA in exchange for receiving large discounts in the price of oil. To “sweeten” this deal and ensure a closing, oil company executives took it upon themselves to present an offer that was difficult to refuse.
“When international crude prices this summer hovered around 41 USD, PDVSA offered Tipco discounts on its Boscan crude of around 25 USD per barrel for a shipment of 700,000 barrels, according to a 4-page summary of the proposal, which was addressed to Tipco’s chief operating officer,” the AP note reported.
However, these deals with the Venezuelan regime can do a lot of damage. Tipco Asphalt was in the crosshairs of the United States to also be sanctioned for carrying out operations with a company sanctioned by the US government.
This relentless pressure by the United States paid off. On September 11, Tipco announced that it would stop buying oil from Venezuela. The reasons were strictly related to pressure from the Trump administration.
The United States has its eyes fixed on Venezuela’s allies
Washington has not merely looked at PDVSA’s clients to find inconsistencies like the one referred to above, but it has also noted and sanctioned Venezuela’s other allies. For example, Iran is a nation that uses Emirati companies to facilitate oil exports.
The US Treasury Department has sanctioned more than half a dozen entities based in the United Arab Emirates this year.
In this case, the reason for the sanctions emerges from the fact that these companies were involved in buying or brokering the sale of Iranian oil and petrochemical products. This aspect violates the sanctions imposed on the Arab country.