A man looks at shipping containers at a terminal in Hong Kong, May 14, 2019.

4 Hong Kong transport corporations sanctioned this week by the U.S. Division of State for doing enterprise with an Iranian state transport line have been traced to a single title, purportedly belonging to an individual based mostly in Shanghai, an RFA investigation has revealed.

The U.S. on Monday named Attain Holding Group (Shanghai), Attain Delivery Traces, Delight Delivery, Gracious Delivery, Noble Delivery, and Supreme Delivery in a listing of people and firms being sanctioned for “having knowingly offered, equipped, or transferred to Iran important items or companies utilized in reference to the transport sector of Iran.”

Attain Holdings’ CEO Eric Chen, also referred to as Chen Guoping and president Daniel Y. He, also referred to as He Yi, had been additionally positioned below particular person sanctions.

The State Division stated Attain Holdings and its transport line had organized berths at Chinese language ports for vessels belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran Delivery Traces (IRISL) state transport line and its Shanghai-based subsidiary, E-Sail.

The Attain, Delight, Gracious, Noble and Supreme transport strains had all knowingly offered, equipped, or transferred container vessels to IRISL or its subsidiaries, it stated in an announcement on its official web site.

“At present, we reiterate a warning to stakeholders worldwide:  For those who do enterprise with IRISL, you threat U.S. sanctions,” the assertion stated.

An investigation by RFA’s Cantonese Service has revealed that Delight, Gracious, Noble, and Supreme transport strains named within the assertion all share a single, sole director: Shanghai resident Shen Yong, who has already been implicated in U.S. sanctions again in 2011.

The 4 transport strains have the identical sole shareholder, the Cyprus-registered Santatos Delivery Co. Ltd. In line with the U.S. State Division, they share the identical Hong Kong registered tackle at a business constructing in Sheung Wan district.

Nonetheless, their Hong Kong firm data itemizing offers an tackle — additionally shared by all 4 corporations — at an industrial constructing in Kwun Tong.

A go to to each addresses on Tuesday revealed that the Sheung Wan workplace is an empty area utilized by a number of corporations needing to offer addresses in Hong Kong. An analogous area was discovered when an RFA reporter visited the Kwun Tong tackle.

An individual who answered the registered firm telephone quantity stated they had been unaware of the U.S. sanctions, as they had been merely offering secretarial companies on contract.

Requested the whereabouts of Shen Yong, the particular person replied: “He is in China proper now. We’re only a secretarial companies firm employed by him to register [here in Hong Kong].”

‘White glove’ buffer zones

U.S. political threat administration advisor Ross Feingold stated it has been widespread apply for corporations to make use of Hong Kong as a “white glove” buffer zone by which to route their enterprise with Iran or North Korea, thereby avoiding sanctions — till now.

“If they need regular commerce with the U.S. to proceed, this methodology will not be obtainable any extra, now that the U.S. has abolished Hong Kong’s particular buying and selling privileges,” Feingold stated. “The so-called white gloves will not imply something.”

“The U.S. is treating Hong Kong corporations the identical approach it treats mainland Chinese language corporations now.”

In November 2012, Hong Kong’s Marine Division stated 19 ships linked to IRISL would now not be allowed to function below its flag.

These ships had been owned by King Energy Holdings, of which Shen Yong was listed as a director in August 2019.

On a Western blacklist

IRISL has been on a Western blacklist of sanctioned entities for years due to allegations it transports weapons, which it denies.

IRISL’s fleet consists of dry bulker and container ships, and the transport line has tried altering flags and organising entrance corporations to get round sanctions prior to now, each the U.S. Treasury and the EU have stated.

In line with an Aug. 30, 2011 report in The Wall Road Journal, Iran’s “shell sport” began in 2008, after the U.S. first imposed sanctions on IRISL “for its function in provisioning Iran’s rogue missile and nuclear applications.”

“IRISL responded by camouflaging a lot of its fleet, reflagging and renaming scores of its blacklisted ships,” the paper reported on the time. “It parceled out some to newly minted associates and created shell corporations overseas to function nominal homeowners. Behind the scenes, IRISL retained management.”

Again in 2011, the only shareholder of King Energy Holdings was initially Nominee Director & Shareholder Ltd, a British Virgin Islands-registered firm, however its shares had been transferred later that 12 months to Kish Roaring Ocean Delivery Firm, an Iranian firm, of which it’s also a director.

Since August 2019, the only shareholder of King Energy has been Cyprus-registered firm, Montenavo Delivery. This data modified on the similar time that Shen Yong was named director.

Reported by Tseng Yat-yiu, Gigi Lee, and Chan Jeon-nam for RFA’s Cantonese and Mandarin Providers. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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