The voice of the world’s shipowners is facing questions over its membership after the US sanctioned the Russian company of one of its directors.

Albert Vygovskii, 53, the chief executive of Russian shipowner Pola Raiz, also known as Pola Rise, has been one of the 30 board members of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) since June 2021, according to UK company accounts.

Albert Vygovskii has been on the ICS board since 2021. Photo: ICS

The Russian Chamber of Shipping has remained a member of London-based ICS throughout the war in Ukraine.

The ICS represents the world’s national shipowner associations and more than 80% of the world’s merchant fleet.

The body said it had been important to maintain lines of communication with the Russian chamber to ensure the safety of seafarers.

“To date, membership of the ICS by the Russian Chamber of Shipping is compliant with sanctions,” it said in a statement.

“We will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that this remains the case.”

The US on Friday included St Petersburg-based Pola Raiz and its 22 general cargo ships in its latest round of sanctions, marking the first anniversary of the invasion.

The US State Department said that Pola Raiz was targeted for its involvement in “expanding Russia’s future energy production and export capacity”.

It said that it was involved in increasing Russia’s trade with Turkey and facilitating shipments of materials to Arctic construction sites.

Neither Vygovskii nor any other individual at Pola Raiz was targeted as part of the US measures. The company is not listed under current European Union and UK sanctions regimes.

But previous international sanctions against a Russian owner have led to the company withdrawing from a UK-based association.

Sovcomflot left independent tanker owners’ association Intertanko and the Society of International Gas Tanker & Terminal Operators (Sigtto) following international sanctions against the company.

In the last year, the ICS has promoted the Black Sea grain corridor and raised concerns about seafarer welfare.

Earlier this week, it pleaded to United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres to help the 331 seafarers still trapped on vessels in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov because of the Russian blockade of ports.

The ICS biography of Vygovskii says he has been involved in shipping since 1995 and trained in Russia, the UK and Denmark.

He has held his current position at Pola Raiz since 2018 where he is “responsible for the operational and financial activities of the company” and the development of the business, says the biography.

The company is listed in shipping databases as the registered owner and commercial manager for 21 ships and only as the commercial manager for a single ship, the 8,126-dwt Astrol-1 (built 2020), whose owner is SC Astrol.

Besides the 17,100-dwt Pola Dudinka (built 2000), Pola Raiz’s entire fleet was built between 2017 and 2020, and 19 have or have had connections to previously sanctioned JSC State Transport Leasing Co, also known as GTLK, according to Clarksons.

Nobody was available at the company to comment at the time of writing.

The US announcement came hours before the EU stated that it had finally reached an agreement among its 27 members on a 10th package of sanctions just before its self-imposed anniversary date deadline.

The Swedish presidency said measures introduced would include those targeted against individuals and companies supporting the war, spreading propaganda and disinformation, and delivering drones used by Russia.

Missing out on the TradeWinds News App?
The News App offers you more control over your TradeWinds reading experience than any other platform.