Grace 1 leaves Gibraltar, heads to Greece

Tanker Grace 1 left the port of Gibraltar on Sunday August 18th, six weeks after it had initially been detained, and is reported to be heading for the Greek port of Kalamanta.

It now bears a new name, the Adrian Darya-1.

The Gibraltar court ordered the release of tanker Grace 1 on Thursday, but on Friday the US justice department issued a warrant to seize the tanker, its 2.1m barrels of oil, and nearly a million dollars – linked to Paradise Global Trading LLC, an Iranian company – that was allegedly sitting in an unnamed US bank.

Gibraltar said it could not comply with the US request to issue a new detention order because US sanctions against Iran did not apply in the EU.

The US filed its detention request on the grounds that Grace 1 had links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which it has designated a terrorist group.

In a statement on Sunday Gibraltar said that it could not comply with the request because the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is not viewed as a terrorist organisation by the EU, which the British territory is currently part of.

It also said that US sanctions preventing oil exports from Iran could not be enforced by the EU, reflecting what it said were “the very different positions and legal regimes in the US and the EU”.

Iran said it was ready to dispatch a naval escort to the Adrian Darya-1.

Grace 1 was detained on July 4th on suspicion of illegally transporting oil to Syria.

The warrant, issued by a US federal court in Washington on Friday, was addressed to “the United States Marshals Service and/or any other duly authorized law enforcement officer”.

The justice department asserted that Grace 1 and the Paradise Global Trading LLC had been involved in violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, bank fraud, money laundering and terrorism forfeiture statutes.

“A network of front companies allegedly laundered millions of dollars in support of such shipments,” Federal prosecutor Jessie Liu said, adding that the parties involved were linked with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the US regards as a foreign terrorist organisation.

Although the tanker was ordered released, initially it only shifted position off Gibraltar, remaining at anchor, apparently waiting for a replacement Captain and some replacement crew.

A lawyer for the Grace 1’s arrested and now-freed captain told the Gibraltar Chronicle that his client had asked to be replaced.  The Indian Captain said: “I am grateful and thankful for my release. And I am grateful to all who have facilitated my release in my legal team.”