March 18, 2024

OFAC sanctions Marshall Islands-registered shipping company and vessel for supporting the Houthis

On March 15, 2024, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned Vishnu Inc., a shipping company registered in the Marshall Islands, that owned or controlled the Lady Sofia, a vessel involved in the unlawful shipment of Iranian commodities to the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”).  OFAC also identified the Lady Sofia as blocked property.  According to OFAC, Lady Sofia delivered shipments to support Sa’id al-Jamal, an individual previously designated in the United States for being a financial facilitator for the Houthis and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (“IRGC-QF”).  The Lady Sofia allegedly received Iranian commodities as part of a ship-to-ship transfer from the Mehle, a recently sanctioned vessel owned by Cielo Maritime Ltd that allegedly used an automatic identification system to hide its true location while the cargo was being transferred.  OFAC reported that the Lady Sofia is currently enroute to the PRC with illegal cargo received from the Mehle on al-Jamal’s behalf.

The OFAC designations were imposed pursuant to Executive Order 13224, as amended, which targets terrorist groups and their supporters.  As a result of these designations, all property and interests in property of the designated persons within the United States or within the possession or control of a U.S. person are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving a designated person.  Entities owned 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.

U.S. Department of Treasury Press Release