On Friday, the United States revealed charges related to terrorism and sanctions evasion, involving the seizure of assets valued at over a billion dollars connected to an oil trafficking network.
The U.S. government alleges that this network played a role in financing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and other associated groups, as stated in a press release by the Department of Justice.
The U.S. Department of Justice reported the confiscation of more than $108 million, which the China Oil & Petroleum Company Limited attempted to launder through the U.S. banking system. The seized assets also encompassed over half a million barrels of Iranian crude oil aboard the vessel Abyss, subject to U.S. sanctions.
In connection to the seized funds, Turkish national Sitki Ayan, Morteza Rostam Ghasemi, and Behnam Shahriyari were charged in a New York federal court. Meanwhile, Chinese national Shaoyun Wang and Oman’s Mahmood Rashid Amur Al Habsi faced charges in a DC court, specifically for sanctions evasion and money laundering related to Iranian oil revenue from sales to Chinese government-owned refineries.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized that Iran utilizes the proceeds from black-market oil sales to finance criminal activities, including support for the IRGC, Hamas, Hizballah, and other aligned terrorist groups.
Garland stated, “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.”
He also highlighted the Justice Department’s commitment to using all available authority to disrupt Iran’s illegal financing and support for malicious activities. Garland announced charges against nine individuals for their roles in supporting Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions, affirming the ongoing efforts to address Iran’s activities.