Control Risks’ researchers have helped several international oil companies decide whether to move forward with purchasing oil in the Middle East.

Several international oil companies have come to us for support engaging with small Middle East-based oil traders dealing in Russian and Iraqi oil. These clients have all needed to ensure that the oil they were purchasing had no connection to sanctioned entities or individuals. In the case of Russian oil, there was the additional requirement to ensure the oil was not purchased above the price cap.

Identifying ownership

Our experts initially conducted corporate record checks to identify our clients’ traders’ shareholders and directors. We also conducted public domain research to identify any employees of concern. We then assessed whether these individuals were acting as proxy owners or employed as a front. In each case, we identified several individuals who had no association with the oil trader, suggesting the true beneficial owners were deliberately hiding their involvement.

In many of the cases our experts looked at, we could see that individual traders had moved from one trading company to another, leaving a footprint of old email and physical addresses as well as contact numbers. We also identified that many new trading companies were pop-up replacements of former companies. Our team did this by conducting network analysis of contact information, including company domain names. This enabled us to link the various individuals with their companies and ascertain whether they could also be linked back to sanctioned entities or traders who were involved in trading sanctioned oil.

Sifting through the data

To establish each trader’s suppliers and buyers, our team reviewed import and export data as well as media references. We then assessed whether the traders had a track record of selling or purchasing sanction-connected oil. Where we had shipping information, we reviewed the vessels, ship owners and charterers to understand if they had carried sanctioned oil previously. Through discreet source enquiries, we sought to identify who the true owners of the trading companies were, what their role was, and whether they had connections to any sanctioned entities or individuals. 

Across these cases, our experts identified several links to hidden beneficial owners of sanctioned entities as well as sea oil transfers of suspect vessels and cargo. Our findings helped several of our clients decide confidently whether to move forward with purchasing oil through these traders. 

 Learn more about our experience with sanctions and how we can help you

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