An Australian-owned multinational is at the centre of a mysterious $15m shipment from Iran that threatens to breach strict US sanctions, the Guardian can reveal.
Shipping records, leaked video and internal documents show the movement of a significant haul of urea fertiliser out of Iran last month, through the Middle East and on to China.
The shipment was then reloaded onto a cargo ship being used by Quantum Fertiliser, a Hong Kong-based trading subsidiary of the ASX-listed multinational Incitec Pivot, a one-time contractor with the federal government and donor to the Labor party.
The company said it was “misled about the origin of the product” and was urgently offloading the suspect cargo, while launching a wider review to “remove the risk of a repeat of this situation”.
Strict United States sanctions prohibiting business dealings with Iran, including by non-US entities, were revived last year, following the Trump administration’s abandonment of the Iran nuclear deal.
The far-reaching sanctions have prompted fears over even the most benign business interactions with Iran. Last month, two vessels carrying Iranian fertiliser to Brazil were left stranded for a month because the state-owned oil company Petrobras refused to refuel them for the return journey, fearing US retribution.
Internal documents suggest Quantum knew the goods it was loading had just come from a cargo vessel named the CS Future.
The Guardian has separately established that the CS Future left Iran’s Bandar Abbas port on 1 July. Vessel inspection reports show it was carrying “urea in bulk”.
Publicly-available online vessel trackers also show the CS Future had just travelled through the Middle East.
The vessel arrived at Lianyungang, China, on 25 July, via Oman, and began unloading its cargo, valued at an estimated $10-$15m. The haul was then reloaded onto a second cargo ship, the Bulk Aquila.
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