A small landlocked nation in South America has seen it's rolls of ships registered and flagged by Bolivia jump by huge amounts in the last year and it is by Iranian companies that are under international sanctions.
Nearly every port in the world requires any ship making a port call to be registered with a national ship registry and be flagged as such by that nation. But as economic sanctions bite into Iran's economy, the fate of the missing Iranian tankers that held large reserves of oil is being traced to two front companies that have been registering sanctioned ships in Bolivia, a nation with no ports and no maritime services other than its registry.
According to Reuters; The two companies, Andulena Corporation and the Auris Marine Company, are believed to be front companies for Iran and the Iranian shipping company Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, IRISL.
Several ships previously flagged as Maltese or Cypriot have underwent a complex web of ownership changes and registry transfers then wound up on Bolivia's registry over the last year say UN Investigators in an attempt by IRISL to get around sanctions.
Malta and Cyprus have been under considerable EU pressure to comply to sanctions forcing them to de-register 44 of IRSL's 144 ships.
In response to this, Bolivia said it will investigate and if it uncovers evidence that the ships are owned by front companies, or that Iran used Bolivia to get around sanctions, it will de-register those ships and they will not be entitled to a refund of the registry deposits paid.