Greek court overturns earlier ruling that permitted US confiscation of Iranian oil

The convoluted case of a Russian-associated ship with Iranian oil on board that was detained while in Greek waters took another turn on Wednesday June 8th when the Greek appeals court in Chalkis overturned an earlier court ruling which had allowed the confiscation of the US of part of the cargo, reports Reuters, citing three sources familiar with the matter.

Iran had also appealed the original court decision, one unnamed legal source said.

The seizure of the vessel led to Iranian retaliation, with Iran seizing two Greek tankers on May 27th in the Arabian Gulf.

“The action for the reversal of the ruling was accepted by the court. It will be hard to overrule that”, the source stated. It was not immediately clear if either the US or Greek governments would challenge the ruling, which had not yet been made public.

The increasingly complex case began in April when Greek authorities impounded the Iranian- (formerly Russian-) flagged Lana (IMO 9256860), formerly Pegas, with 19 Russian crew members on board, near the coast of the southern island of Evia. This was due to European Union sanctions against Russia.

The initial detention appeared to be part of the EU’s sanctions against Russian vessels, but complexities regarding the real ownership of the vessel led to the vessel being released.

Undeterred by the moves to bypass EU sanctions against Russia, in May the US confiscated part of the Iranian oil cargo held onboard and transferred it to another ship, following the initial Greek court ruling. This action was undertaken under the US sanctions against Iran.

Greek authorities later reseized the Lana, this time acting on an interim court order over alleged debts to another shipping company, represented by lawyer George Kozanidis, who Reuters that the case was related to unpaid towing services.

Although the courts and state are separate in Greece, it was observed that the appeal court ruling would not harm diplomatic efforts by Greece to free the two detained vessels, tankers Prudent Warrior (IMO 9753545) and Delta Poseidon (IMO 9468671), currently held in Iranian waters, along with their crew, whom Iran has insisted were not being detained.

2003-built, Iran-flagged, 61,991 gt Lana is owned and managed by Transmorflot Inc of Akhty, Russia (Equasis information). As of May 31st the vessel was at anchorage in Karystos, Aegean Sea. It was renamed the Lana on March 1st 2022.

2011-built, Greece-flagged, 81,619 gt Delta Poseidon is owned by Delta Poseidon ENE care of manager Delta Tankers Ltd, Athens, Greece. It is entered with Gard on behalf of Delta Poseidon Special Maritime Enterprise.

2017-built, Greece-flagged, 81,287 gt Prudent Warrior is owned by Bonita Transport Ltd care of manager Polembros Shipping Ltd of Athens, Greece. It is entered with American Club on behalf of Bonita Transport Ltd.