On February 2, the U.S. announced terrorism and sanctions-evasion charges and seizures linked to a billion-dollar oil trafficking network, which allegedly finances Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and other militant groups.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said that the cases are in response to a series of aggressive actions by Iran over several years.

In August 2022, the U.S. charged an IRGC member with plotting to murder John Bolton, who served as U.S. national security adviser under former President Donald Trump.

The DOF stressed that actions by Iran-backed militants, including the October 7 attack on Israel by the Palestinian group Hamas and the attack that killed three American soldiers in Jordan, have increased the focus on Iran’s oil trade.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney-General Merrick Garland said, “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.”

More than US$108 million that the China Oil & Petroleum Company Limited attempted to launder through accounts at U.S. financial institutions were seized, the DOJ said, adding that China Oil & Petroleum is an IRGC front company.

The department added that it also seized more than 520,000 barrels of Iran’s oil aboard the crude tanker Abyss covered by U.S. sanctions.

According to ship tracking data from Kpler and London Stock Exchange Group, the tanker was anchored between China and South Korea in the Yellow Sea.

In connection with the seizure of the money, seven defendants, including a Turkish national Sitki Ayan, chairman of the ASB Group, Morteza Rostam Ghasemi, son of a former IRGC commander and Iranian petroleum minister, and Behnam Shahriyari, an IRGC Quds Force official, were charged in the Southern District of New York federal court.

In a case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the DOJ also charged a Chinese woman, Shaoyun Wang, and an Omani man, Mahmood Rashid Amur Al Habsi, with Iran sanctions evasion and money laundering in connection with the trafficking and selling of Iranian oil to Chinese government-owned refineries.

Source » malaysiasun