China's Bank of Kunlun Denies Owning Ship Carrying Oil From Iran

(Bloomberg) -- Bank of Kunlun, a Chinese lender, said it doesn’t own a ship that the U.S. pinpointed last week as carrying Iranian oil.

A senior U.S. official said May 28 that the ship, the Pacific Bravo, was the property of the bank and was headed toward Hong Kong. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, warned that any entity in the Asian financial hub that did business with the ship would be exposed to U.S. sanctions.

“After our checks, the vessel Pacific Bravo, and the goods it carries, have nothing to do with Bank of Kunlun,” the bank said in an emailed statement. It didn’t provide further information.

Hong Kong’s government has “strictly” implemented United Nations Security Council sanctions, which don’t impose “any restrictions on the export of petroleum from Iran,” a spokesperson for the city’s Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said last week in response to a question about the U.S. warning.

U.S. Warning

Washington wants to put Hong Kong and China on notice that it will aggressively and consistently enforce its sanctions on Iran, the senior U.S. official said.

While the U.S. official said the tanker is heading to Hong Kong, ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg showed a vessel called the Pacific Bravo off the coast of Indonesia on Monday.

President Donald Trump has increased pressure on Iran since taking office, exiting the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that gave the Islamic Republic sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its disputed nuclear program.

Reuters reported in October that the Bank of Kunlun -- once Beijing’s major channel for transactions with Iran -- would stop handling such payments due to sanctions pressure.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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