US Treasury sanctions international oil smuggling network linked to Iran
The Treasury Department on Wednesday announced the latest round of sanctions targeting an international oil smuggling and money laundering network linked to Iran.
In a statement, the department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said that a group of Iranian Revolutionary Guard officials launched a network that facilitated the sale of Iranian oil for them and Hezbollah, a Lebanese-based political party and militant group, which generated sales worth millions of dollars.
The office also said that the oil smuggling network was run by U.S.-designated Revolutionary Guard official Behnam Shahriyari and former Revolutionary Guard official Rostam Ghasemi and backed by senior Russian officials and state-run economic organs.
The companies and business ventures targeted in the latest round of sanctions include Hong Kong-based energy company China Haokun Energy Limited, Iran-based Petro China Pars Co. and Lebanon-based Concepto Screen SAL Off-Shore.
The move comes as Rob Malley, a U.S. special representative for Iran, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that the outlook on a possible U.S.-Iran nuclear deal is “tenuous at best,” adding they will continue to reject Iranian demands that are far away from the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
According to a Reuters report, data showed that China’s purchases of Iranian-made oil have risen in recent years, with Chinese imports exceeding 700,000 barrels per day in January.
“The United States remains fully committed to holding the Iranian regime accountable for its support to terrorist proxies that destabilize the Middle East,” the department under secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in a statement.
“While the United States continues to seek a mutual return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we will not hesitate to target those who provide a critical lifeline of financial support and access to the international financial system for the Qods Force or Hizballah. In particular, the United States will continue to strictly enforce sanctions on Iran’s illicit oil trade,” Nelson said. “Anyone purchasing oil from Iran faces the prospect of U.S. sanctions.”