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How Sanctioned Ukrainian Grew Dark Fleet in a Matter of Months


Not much is known about Viktor Artemov, the Switzerland-based Ukrainian who landed on the US government’s blacklist earlier this month after allegedly using a fleet of 11 tankers to ship hundreds of thousands of barrels of Iranian oil.


Matthew Thomas, a sanctions attorney at law firm Blank Rome, said ship sellers tend to use the same level of due diligence they do in chartering agreements.

If it is a new buyer on the scene, he said they tend to have connections to traditional shipping outfits.

“Buyers that are a completely blank slate on all these issues pose potentially a significant risk,” he said.

“People buy ships as financial investments but usually there’s some nexus. They’re either working with an established ship manager or fund or they’re working with a shipping bank or they have an arrangement with a charterer or a pool. There’s some connection there that’s bona fide.”

Thomas added that a seller dealing with a low-profile buyer could also examine the trading patterns of the buyer’s existing fleet, should it have one.

“We’re seeing more of this situation now, with questionable and really opaque buyers popping up with Russia, Venezuela and Iran,” Thomas said.

“It is a problem and it’s an issue that’s been around but it’s becoming even more significant now.”

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"How Sanctioned Ukrainian Grew Dark Fleet in a Matter of Months," by Matt Coyne was published in TradeWinds on November 16, 2022.