Caracas Capital Markets, a US-based investment firm that tracks Venezuela sanctions links, used vessel-tracking data and court documents filed in Houston to detail subterfuge and obfuscation

Sea Energy Co hired the tanker on March 27, according to Russ Dallen, managing director of Miami-based Caracas Capital Markets, which tracks Venezuela sanctions links for clients.

Alkimos was hired for two voyages to pick up gasoline cargoes from the Panamanian port of Cristobal for delivery to Aruba or Curacao to ES Euroshipping, Mr Dallen said.

“On March 31, the Alkimos’ owners were still gathering data about their counterparty and awaiting full delivery instructions but they apparently were starting to get a bad feeling about this fare and sent the following email via their brokers,” Mr Dallen said in the written account of events

According to Mr Dallen, loading of Alkimos began on April 7 and it sailed two days later, after charterers reported that an STS transfer would take place 12 miles off Aruba.

“Setting off more alarm bells, the payment from the charterers arrived — not from the charterers, but from an unknown third party called ‘Ultra Travel’ in Montenegro,” Mr Dallen said, citing court documents in connection with the cargo seizure in Houston.