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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

French shipping company may be sanctioned for smuggling Iranian weapons

The World's third largest shipping company, France's CMA CGM, may be sanctioned by the US for smuggling Iranian weapons to Hamas and Hezbullah.
In March, the CMA CGMoperated container ship MV Victoria was seized by the Israel Navy in the Mediterranean and escorted to Ashdod Port. More than 50 tons of weapons from Iran were aboard. They included anti-ship missiles, 3,000 mortar shells and almost 70,000 rounds of ammunition for machine guns.

The Victoria’s route took it from Latakia, Syria, through the port of Mersin in Turkey to Alexandria, Egypt, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Meron Reuben said. According to Israeli security officials, the weapons were destined for Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

This is not the first time CMA CGM has reportedly been involved in controversial trade with Iran.

In December, Rep. Peter King (R-New York) wrote to Philippe Soulié, CEO of the shipping company. King said he was “deeply concerned” about the French firm’s trade relationship with the regime in Iran. King is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

A few weeks earlier, the company’s MV Everest container ship was seized off the Nigerian coast, fully loaded with Iranian weapons. King warned the shipping company against half-heartedly monitoring its freight in light of international sanctions.

In a letter made available to the Post, he said the shipper should expect “severe penalties” in the United States.

Soulié wrote in response that the MV Everest had been chartered by a company that did not appear on the US Treasury’s sanctions list.

Soulié assured King that the company was fully aware of the UN, US and EU sanctions. He insisted that CMA CGM was at the “forefront of shipping companies” in adherence to laws and regulations, especially in regard to the Iranian regime.

However, barely three months later, the MV Victoria became the next French ship to be seized with Iranian weapons aboard.

“The group is working closely with the responsible authorities in the fight against illegal transports,” CMA CGM wrote in a statement to the Post.

“CMA CGM was, like other important world-wide shipping companies, a victim of false transport documentation from the sender, and with help of the consignor, CMA CGM was misled about the true nature of the transportation goods.”
Read the whole thing.

Why do I have the impression this is like a drop in the ocean?

/Sigh

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