A ship loaded with oil derivatives arrived off the Lebanese coast, intended to violate the sanctions imposed on the Assad regime.
How did the ship arrive?
The ship entered Lebanese waters from Greece, loaded with benzene, and it did not come from any request of an official or private company.
The vessel docked opposite the oil installations in the Zahrani area, and the General Directorate of Petroleum in Lebanon confirmed that it was unaware of the ship and that it was ignorant of its source.
She explained that the import of petroleum products for the benefit of the facilities is based on the tenders conducted by a specialized committee with an official mandate in accordance with the rules, and therefore the ship is now under investigation by the competent authorities.
The ship, which launched from an oil refinery in Greece, loaded with about 4 million liters of benzene (2750 tons), and after entering Lebanese territorial waters, it traveled 26 nautical miles off Zahrani towards Tripoli before returning to off Zahrani.
Now, the customs administration in Lebanon detains her and imposes a guard against her to prevent her movement.
The Lebanese judiciary is investigating the ship and prosecuting its maritime agent to hear about the circumstances of the arrival of the ship, which is suspected of being intended to violate the sanctions imposed on the Syrian regime.
Informed sources indicated to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the file is in the custody of the Southern Prosecutor, Judge Raheef Ramadan. The Lebanese judiciary is investigating the maritime agent to summon him, listen to him, and get acquainted with information about the ship, including its destination and any port it intends to dock at to unload its cargo.
The maritime agent is pursuing to find out the ship’s destination and the reasons for its heading to Lebanon, whether that was its first voyage to Lebanon, and to make sure of the conditions of its arrival and whether there are local authorities that import the shipment or facilitate its arrival to Lebanese territorial waters.
The sources added that there were demands to divert the ship’s destination to Turkey at the request of the maritime agent, but the Lebanese judiciary did not agree to prevent Lebanon from being subjected to sanctions, and it is now seized by the customs administration in exchange for the oil installations in Zahrani until the end of the investigation.
The maritime agent is considered responsible for the ship from the moment it enters the territorial waters to its anchorage in any Lebanese port, and submits papers that include the type of its cargo the moment it reaches the territorial waters, and then a marine guide is sent to it to direct it to any port in which it will land.
The shipping agent shall bear all the costs of the vessel, including the cost of the guide who will direct it to the berth on which it will anchor, and he must be the holder of a power of attorney from the company that owns the ship.
Also, according to the procedures, the responsibility of the shipping agent ends when he hands over the papers to the Lebanese authorities, so that the responsibility passes to the customs broker who submits the papers to customs and takes care of paying the costs of unloading and shipping them and transporting the goods loaded on them to the Lebanese territory. And if, after inspecting it by customs, it appears that its cargo is not in conformity with the papers, the responsibility of the shipper, the customs broker, the company that owns the ship, and the person who is supposed to receive the goods bear the responsibility.
What is the relationship of the system?
Well-informed Lebanese sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the shipment on board the ship belonged to the Syrian “Al-Naam” company, which is located in Harasta in Damascus, pointing out that the ship is forbidden to enter Lebanese ports if the aim is to breach the sanctions on Syria and the Caesar Act. Imposed by the United States on the Syrian regime and its collaborators.
The fate of the steamer
Lebanon will return the ship to Greece after the investigation ends, and it will avoid any sanctions and will not be allowed to enter, because that would be considered a circumvention of the Caesar Act.
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