Maritime legal exposure in a post-grain laundering landscape?

News / / London

In this article, Ince and Windward jointly consider the new phenomenon of Russian grain laundering, and the legal exposure for the maritime industry.

As reported in several industry publications, Windward’s artificial intelligence (AI) driven insights showed that ship-to-ship (STS) transfers were being used to steal, and subsequently smuggle Ukrainian grain. This has prompted much discussion around the possible legal exposure and how concerned the market should be.

Following the recent decision of the International Group to restrict coverage for certain trades due to unclear and ambiguous guidance from the EU, there will be increased restriction of legitimate Russian trade. Unfortunately, the counterbalance to this will be a likely rise in illegal and illicit activity.

Dark activity (disabling the AIS) triggers an important alarm for the maritime industry, due to both safety and insurance concerns, as well as regulatory exposure as a result of the constantly changing and increasingly stringent sanctions against Russian entities, including individuals, companies, and vessels.

Participation in intentional dark activity not only raises a significant likelihood of violating sanctions, but also a likely breach of the requirements of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), as well as insurance and flag state requirements.

SOLAS permits an AIS transmitter to be turned off for safety and security reasons and similarly, the existence of shipto-ship (STS) operations does not automatically mean that sanctions have been breached, but these activities do arouse suspicion that the vessel in question might be engaging in illicit activities and breaching sanctions. At the very least, they serve as a red flag.

The full article can be viewed here:


Julian Clark

Julian Clark Global Senior Partner

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