U.S. Charges Iranian Oil Trafficking Network Over Sanctions Evasion

2024/02/05 11:07

The United States announced terrorism and sanctions-evasion charges on Friday, including asset seizures, over a billion-dollar network linked to oil trafficking that the U.S. government says helped to finance Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and other groups, the Department of Justice said in a Friday press release.

The U.S. Department of Justice said it seized over $108 million that China Oil & Petroleum Company Limited tried to launder through the U.S. banking system. The seizures also include more than a half a million barrels of Iranian crude oil that were on board the Abyss, which was covered by U.S. sanctions.

The defendants include Turkish national Sitki Ayan, Morteza Rostam Ghasemi, and Behnam Shahriyari were all charged in a New York federal court over ties to the seized funds. Chinese national Shaoyun Wang and Oman’s Mahmood Rashid Amur Al Habsi were charged in a DC court with sanctions evasion and money laundering of Iranian oil money derived from Iranian oil sales to refineries owned by the government of China.

Iran utilizes the proceeds of its black-market oil sales to fund its criminal activities, including its support of the IRGC, Hamas, Hizballah, and other Iranian aligned terrorist groups,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a Friday statement, adding that “The Justice Department is targeting this funding source by seizing over $108 million and 500,000 barrels of fuel that would otherwise have enabled Iran to further its destabilizing activities that threaten our national security. In addition to disrupting Iran’s unlawful funding streams, the Justice Department has also charged nine individuals for their roles in supporting Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. The Justice Department will continue to use every authority we have to cut off the illegal financing and enabling of Iran’s malicious activities, which have become even more evident in recent months.”