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Iran-linked shipowners list little-known ‘East of England’ P&I Club for tanker cover

Club has a similar name but no connection to the International Group of 13 P&I clubs that insure 90 per cent of the world’s fleet, nor members of West of England and North of England

Numerous attempts have been made to contact East of England management office in Cyprus on the only telephone details provided, a 24-hour emergency number. There was no response to several emails

A SEYCHELLES-registered, Cyprus-managed association largely unheard of in mainstream insurance circles has emerged as the provider of third-party liability for shipping sanctioned Iranian crude.

Heads of flag registries for the Cook Islands, Panama and Tanzania told Lloyd’s List that owners of seven tankers reported their vessel was entered with East of England P&I Association.

The company operates outside the International Group of mutual P&I clubs, which covers 90% of the global fleet, even though its name is similar to two member clubs. These member clubs include nomenclature that includes ‘North of England’ and ‘West of England’.

Marine insurers approached by Lloyd’s List were unaware of the club’s existence, which could not be verified beyond a website with scant details.

“Who!?” asked a senior executive from one of the world’s largest clubs.

Another said upon learning about the company that its name was a “very bizarre and concerning” trend now being investigated at the highest level.

The seven tankers did not show as entered in the website’s vessel search function. No office address or telephone number is listed.

A Cyprus-based “managers central emergency response number” given for “out of hours and at weekends, in case of a major casualty” does not answer.

Lloyd’s List called 11 times at different hours over a week. There was no response to emails sent to the two addresses provided on the website.

Tankers that claimed to be entered with East of England included the Cook Island-flagged, very large crude carriers Ethan (IMO: 9293741), Laka (IMO: 9203253) and Ermis (IMO: 9203265). 

Class certificates for all three were withdrawn for two of the three tankers, according to database checks from the societies listed.

The Panama-flagged aframax tankers Alba Sun (IMO: 9111644) and Aventine (IMO: 9123192) and VLCC Amak (IMO: 9244635) gave East of England P&I Association as their provider for third-party liability as did Tanzania-flagged VLCC Phoenix (IMO: 9181194).

The tankers form part of a subterfuge fleet of some 130 tankers that Lloyd’s List has identified as engaged in deceptive and evasive shipping practices linked to shipping US-sanctioned Iranian and Venezuelan crude.

East of England P&I vessels tracked

The elderly tankers have undergone multiple flag, ownership and name changes over the past 12 months as they are deployed to an internecine network that ships Iranian crude to China via a series of ship-to-ship transfers off Iran, Fujairah, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The East of England P&I Association website said it had “primary quota share reinsurance at Lloyd’s of up to $1m on all risks and any event or occurrence”.

“The main layer of up to $25m is placed at Lloyd’s and is extendable on a case-by-case basis to $100m or above. All layers are placed through Lloyd’s Brokers.”

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