26 March 2019

IMO to tackle fraudulent vessel registrations

The IMO legal committee convenes in London tomorrow for two days to tackle fraudulent vessel registrations and rogue national flag registries.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is seeking to clamp down on fraudulent vessel registrations and rogue national flag registries operating without the knowledge of governments they claim to represent.

Request to governments

Fraudulent registration companies, which operate all over the world and have authentic-looking websites, are offering fake vessel registration on behalf of fake national registries. The global maritime regulator will ask governments to combat fake vessel registrations and registries by getting directly involved in the process. A new publicly available domain would include information of state-sanctioned registries, with governments set to discuss the proposal in London between March 27 and 29. The organisation wants governments to provide official information on national registries through embassies in the UK. An IMO secretariat paper states, ‘it is often difficult for States which are victims of the fraud to trace these companies.’ In recent years there have been increasing concerns regarding sanctions evasion and companies seeking to hide illicit activity.

‘Register of registries’

The Democratic Republic of Congo, which in 2017 said it had 73 vessels that had been registered without the knowledge of its maritime administration. Tanzania also reported to the LEG that it had identified 26 different vessels fraudulently flying its flag between 2016 and 2019. Other states understood to be facing similar challenges listed by the IMO are the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Maldives, Nauru, Samoa and Vanuatu. The LEG aims to discuss measures the organisation can take to address these challenges. The IMO’s Secretariat has suggested that all IMO member states submit contact details and information of the officially recognised registries in their country, of their official branches abroad and of their relevant staff, stating ‘the creation of a database by IMO would therefore be a one-stop information centre where the information for all flags could be available in one place’ in a publicly accessible ‘register of registries.’

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