Why advanced maritime data matters
It won't have escaped your notice that international shipping is under more scrutiny than at any other moment in its history. It's why advanced maritime data has become an essential part of compliance. From ownership to financing, chartering to insurance, crewing to certification, bunkering and beyond, sanctions enforcement operations have tightened everywhere.
This is fuelled by—and, ironically, is fuelling—the increasingly sophisticated sanctions evasion methods used by a few unscrupulous operators. In one recent example, smugglers were found to be laundering ships' identities to evade the sanctions on North Korea.
This technique involves registering an existing IMO identity to a ghost vessel, which can be applied to help disguise other ships. The dual effect of this ‘spoofing’ is the undermining of international sanctions programmes and the IMO's ship registration system.
Of course, the vast majority of organisations aren't engaged in this kind of illicit activity. But that hasn't stopped them from being penalised by OFAC enforcement, regardless of whether their transgression was unintentional. In 2021, OFAC pursued more than $19m in penalties or settlements with organisations who had violated its sanctions regulations. But financial penalties can be the sharp tip of a very deep iceberg.
Falling foul of the more stringent regulatory scrutiny can result in sanctions for organisations linked to maritime industry; not to mention criminal penalties, civil enforcement and being locked out from the US financial market. And that doesn't account for the sizeable reputational damage that would come along with the OFAC enforcement press release.
How advanced maritime data ensures compliance
As sanctions evasion has become more complex and sophisticated, so has the data required for effective maritime risk management. The ability to pinpoint high-risk exposure requires more than just reliable data collection. It's about being able to spot patterns or a series of events that should raise suspicions.
Advanced maritime data can deliver the insight, context and clarity professionals connected to maritime trade need to ensure international compliance. It can help them complete due diligence and mitigate risks.
This is where our advanced data can have the biggest impact, by offering instant 'big picture' compliance risk indicators for a vessel and its behaviour. This could include suspicious AIS gaps or manipulation, unusual movements, ship-to-ship transfers or frequently changing flag state and ownership structures. Any one of these occurrences alone may not raise much suspicion. But our advanced analytical techniques put them together, cross-references them, and connect the dots, allowing patterns to emerge and be identified. This layering of information provides a richer understanding of risk.
For example, a vessel changing owner and flag twice in three years may be nothing of concern. But if that change is paired with additional factors, this can indicate an elevated risk. Such factors could include new ownership connection to a sanctioned entity, an unusual number of recent accidents in the recent past, or sudden periods of suspicious AIS gaps in a pattern consistent with illicit activity. Our AI and advanced analytics piece these factors together and provide an intelligent risk rating rather than simply flagging every single AIS gap – which could become a waste of valuable research time and business resources when gaps turn out to be simple malfunctions or can be explained away as acceptable temporary responses to a threat.
Good data in. Good data out.
Clearly articulated analytics, perspective and insight are the best weapons when it comes to maintaining compliance in a trading landscape where risk has to be identified and priced, mitigated or escalated.
With sanctions and compliance enforcement unlikely to ease in the near future, the most prudent course of action is ensuring access to the high-quality information needed to navigate these waters safely and with certainty. And that’s exactly what we deliver.
As the trusted expert partner for 300 years, we enable professionals connected to maritime trade to act on the truth with transparent data and analytics, validated analysis and actionable insight.