Danish Maersk Pays $3.1 M Fine to US for Breaching Embargos

Danish shipping and oil group A.P. Moeller-Maersk paid a $3.1 million (2.3-million-euro) fine to the United States for having violated its embargo on Iran and Sudan.

US authorities sued the Danish group's shipping branch Maersk Line for having used ships registered in the United States to carry commercial cargo to Sudan and Iran between January 2003 and October 2007, thus breaching Washington's embargo on the two countries.

According to the ruling by the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), the company provided 4,714 shipments of cargo originating in or bound for Sudan and Iran in that period.

The shipping company had risked fines of more than 60 million dollars for the violations, according to the OFAC.

The company negotiated to pay a smaller amount to avoid litigation.

Cargo that was either imported or exported in Iran was at some point placed on an American flagged ship belonging to Maersk.

For shipments brought to Sudan, Maersk had a waver from the US government to deliver US Food Aid into Sudan so the US-flagged ship was in Port Sudan to deliver humanitarian aid.

However, the booking systems did not identify cargo that was coming on and off the ship and which could be in violation of the embargo.

The US government imposed a trade embargo on Sudan in 1997 due to human rights violations linked to the civil war between the north and south of the African country, and also because of the regime's alleged support of international terrorist groups.

The trade embargo against Iran meanwhile came during the Ronald Reagan administration in 1987 after initial sanctions against the nascent Islamic republic in 1979 had already been tightened in 1984.

Maersk reports that the shipments in question contained only commercial cargo.

Source: AFP