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Seized ships continue to smuggle Iraqi oil

One of two over-aged vessels carrying illegal Iraqi oil which were seized...

One of two over-aged vessels carrying illegal Iraqi oil which were seized by the Coast Guard off Fujairah last week was auctioned in Abu Dhabi for Dh300,000 last year after being busted for oil smuggling.

The Sea Wind and the Lilian were intercepted by the Coast Guard in UAE territorial waters with more than 2,000 tonnes of crude oil. The Honduran-flagged Sea Wind was among six vessels caught between last July and August by the Multinational Interception Force enforcing UN sanctions against Iraq.

The vessels were handed over to the Coast Guard and were auctioned last September. The Sea Wind was intercepted last July 19. It was carrying 1,150 tonnes of oil which was sold before the vessel was auctioned.

The other vessels seized last year included the Honduran-flagged Al Maidan and Al Mabrouka, the Kingston-registered Divind 2 and Good Premium, and the Belize-flagged Sunshine 1. Like many other ships smuggling Iraqi oil, the 26-year-old Sea Wind was a cargo vessel converted into a tanker. Since its auction last year the vessel has continued smuggling.

The other vessel caught along with the Sea Wind is the Lilian, which according to earlier reports is owned by an Iraqi company run by Jordanian and Lebanese businessmen. The company had nine vessels involved in smuggling.

One was the St Vincent-flagged Johanna, built in 1969 in Germany. It was carrying 2,200 tonnes of Iraqi crude when it was intercepted near Muscat in April last year. The vessel was bought back by the company at an auction in Abu Dhabi on May 23 last year for Dh210,000.

One of the company's vessels, Al Barak, escaped the UN forces at a holding area in international waters in 1998 and is still wanted by the multinational forces. The captain, now a partner in the company, sailed the ship, which was carrying Iraqi dates, out of the anchorage in darkness.

Later the cargo ship was converted into a tanker and it sails under the name Maggi. Other ships of the company are the Australia, Johangela, Marwan Roy, Master Star, Tole Kareem, Lilian and Lady Nora.