Japanese police raided a ship dealer suspected of illegally selling a vessel to Iran, local media reported Wednesday.

Tokyo police on Tuesday raided the Osaka-based ship dealer on suspicion that it exported a second-hand, 499-tonne freight vessel to Iran instead of to the United Arab Emirates as it had reported to customs, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported, citing unnamed police sources.

The company allegedly submitted the false export plan to customs in May 2021, according to Jiji Press and other local media.

Police tracked the ship and found that it had arrived at an Iranian port after sailing through Southeast Asia, the Yomiuri said.

The company had obtained approval from Iranian authorities for the export, it added.

The sale of ships to Iran is not banned but many companies are cautious of doing business with the country since the United States imposed economic sanctions on Tehran, reports said.

A police spokesperson could not immediately confirm the reports when contacted by AFP.