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          IMB uncovers fake chemical shipments

          • London, 21 December 2007

          The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has investigated a bogus chemical shipping operation originating in Russia and has determined that numerous documents related to these shipments are fraudulent.

          IMB uncovers fake chemical shipments

          Allegedly originating from Russian ports, these spurious shipments were supposed to be heading for both the Far East and North Africa.

          IMB Director Captain Pottengal Mukundan commented: “The fraudulent documents employed in this scam are very convincing and require careful inspection. These false documents present a serious threat to the legitimate trade of chemicals in the region.”

          IMB Director Captain Pottengal Mukundan commented: “The fraudulent documents employed in this scam are very convincing and require careful inspection. These false documents present a serious threat to the legitimate trade of chemicals in the region.”

          The IMB has analysed a number of recent cases originating from the same region. The most recent example involved a shipment of lump sulphur claiming to be departing from a Baltic Seaport and heading to China. The documents relating to the shipment complied with the Letter of Credit, however subsequent inquiries determined that the stated vessel never arrived at the load port and did not exist.

          Captain Mukundan provided greater detail, stating: “The Bills of Lading were supported by other documents such as inspection certificates and a Certificate of Origin. We found that the former was not issued by a known surveyor in the region, and the latter had not been issued by the local Chamber of Commerce, as purported.”

          In the case above, the beneficiary was an Estonian company registered to the appropriate national registry and chamber of commerce. The company has a plausible website including contact information. IMB made repeated attempts to contact the company. These efforts have been fruitless, with all telephone calls connecting directly to a personal voice mailbox that goes unanswered.

          Captain Mukundan added: “Although this case involved complex and persuasive fraudulent documents, a few simple measures could have been taken to protect the buyer. Particularly, a background check on the vessel itself would have immediately confirmed that she did not exist, thereby invalidating the Bill of Lading.”

          The IMB is advising members of the shipping and investment community to be alert to irregularities occurring in chemical trades originating from this region. For those conducting business of this nature, the IMB strongly recommends thorough background checks on all parties and validation of all shipping and sales documents.

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