Three Cuban-flagged tankers that are under U.S. sanctions for transporting Venezuelan oil have been serviced in the port of Veracruz on Mexico’s Gulf coast.

The maintenance work on the vessels is a potential breach of sanctions on Venezuela. 

In 2019, the three tankers were targeted and placed on the U.S. Treasury Department’s list of sanctioned entities when the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed measures against the vessels, their owners, operators and charterers for transporting oil from Venezuela to Cuba. Under U.S. law, companies and individuals are prohibited from materially assisting sanctioned entities.

However, according to U.S. Treasury Department data, the United States has not brought on enforcement actions in the past against shipyards for working on blacklisted vessels from those particular countries.

The U.S. executive order under which the Cuban vessels were targeted is “sufficiently broad to allow the United States to sanction the shipyard,” said Matthew Oresman, who leads Pillsbury’s International Public Policy practice.

But that does not mean the shipyard would necessarily be sanctioned, Oresman said. Sanctions “are imposed at the discretion of OFAC and the U.S. government more broadly,” he added.

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