Charging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime with funding Iran’s proxy terrorist groups, the Trump administration on Tuesday announced that action would be taken against a deceptive international network in which the Iranian regime, together with Russian companies, sends oil to Syria. The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated nine targets in an international network through which the Iranian regime, working with Russian companies, provides millions of barrels of oil to the Syrian government. The Assad regime, in turn, facilitates the movement of hundreds of millions of dollars to Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) for onward transfer to Hamas and Hezbollah, it alleged.
US sanctions prohibit material support to the Government of Syria, including shipments of oil to Syrian government-controlled ports, as well as material support to designated terrorist groups. The designations include Syrian national Mohammad Amer Alchwiki (Alchwiki) and his Russia-based company, Global Vision Group. Alchwiki and his company are central to the delivery of oil from Iran to Syria, and the transfer of funds to the IRGC-QF’s lethal proxies, the Treasury said, adding that the designations also highlight the important role that officials of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) play in facilitating this scheme.
“The Iranian regime continues to prioritise spending money on fomenting terror over supporting its own people,” Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Sigal Mandelker said. “This is yet another example of the regime using the proceeds of millions of barrels of its oil to fund terrorists and the murderous Assad regime to the detriment of its own people,” he said.
Mandelker said the US will aggressively seek to impose sanctions against any party involved in shipping oil to Syria, or seeking to evade its sanctions on Iranian oil. “Shipping companies, insurers, vessel owners, managers, and operators should all be aware of the grave consequences of engaging in sanctionable conduct involving Iranian oil shipments. “As we identify in this action, the Assad regime, in turn, funds Iran’s proxy terrorist groups. Specifically, in this illicit network, the Iranian regime worked with Russian companies to provide millions of barrels of oil to the Syrian government,” a senior administration official told reporters during a conference call.
The Treasury also issued an Advisory to the maritime community regarding the sanctions risks of shipping oil to the Government of Syria, including a non-exhaustive list of vessels that have delivered oil to Syria since 2016. “To assist Syria in paying Russia for this oil, Iran sends funds to Russia through Alchwiki and Global Vision Group. To conceal its involvement in these transactions, the CBI makes these payments to Mir Business Bank using Iran-based Tadbir Kish Medical and Pharmaceutical Company (Tadbir Kish),” the Treasury alleged.
During the call, the senior Trump administration official alleged that the Assad regime moved hundreds of millions of US dollars to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force for Iranian-backed terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. “At the centre of this network is a Syrian national Mohammad Amer Alchwiki, an international businessman, and his Russia-based company, Global Vision Group. Alchwiki and Global Vision Group assist with the delivery of oil from Iran to the Syrian regime, and also the funding of hundreds of millions of US dollars to Quds Force proxies,” the official said.
“Specifically, Alchwiki and Global Vision Group work with state-owned Russian company Promsyrioimport, which is a subsidiary of the Russian Ministry of Energy, to facilitate shipments of oil from the National Iranian Oil Company — or NIAC — to Syria,” the official added. The oil is delivered to Syria through a number of vessels. These vessels routinely switch off their tracking devices to mask the fact that they are delivering illicit oil to Syria, the official noted. “The Iranian regime assists Syria in paying Russia for the oil. And to conceal its involvement in these transactions, the Central Bank of Iran makes payments for the oil using an Iran-based company called Tadbir Kish Medical and Pharmaceutical Company. This is done through Mir Business Bank, an Iranian bank in Russia that we designated two weeks ago,” said the official.
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