The Justice Department announced the sale of about 1.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil seized by the US Navy from four foreign-flagged tankers bound for Venezuela.
The oil was owned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which the United States and several other countries declared a foreign terrorist organization, and the takeover took place on an undisclosed day in or around the Arabian Sea.
The sale, with net proceeds of about $ 26.7 million, came after a court order on October 1 formalized the confiscation of the property. This came after the US government filed a complaint in July 2020 alleging that the oil was coming from Iran and that selling it would benefit the IRGC.
“In its opinion, the court found that the United States had sufficiently stated that oil products served as a source of influence on the IRGC because these facilities were critical to the conduct of the terrorist group’s enterprise,” the Justice Department said in a statement. 7th issue.
According to the Ministry of Justice, the proceeds from the sale could be directed to the State-sponsored Fund for Assistance to Victims of Terrorism.
United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and tracking illicit Iranian oil shipments, said it had identified 149 foreign-flagged vessels in November 2021 with suspected involvement in illegal shipments. Iranian transfer oil and / or petroleum products. This is more than about 70 such vessels found the group in November 2020.
“One of the most commonly used tactics for evading oil sanctions is ‘changing the flag,’” UANI said in a December 1 statement. This tactic involves repeatedly re-flagging a vessel in various national registries, which technically allows such vessels to travel and dock legally.
“Jumping the flag is often accompanied by the formation of new shell and shell companies, changes in owners and names, and even a change in the physical marking of ships,” added UANI.
The Justice Department said that in addition to seizing oil related to the IRGC, the US Navy also confiscated two large caches of Iranian weapons, including 171 surface-to-air missiles and eight anti-tank missiles. The seizure of weapons occurred in 2019 and 2020 during routine maritime security operations in the Arabian Sea, with the Justice Department saying the shipment was organized by the IRGC and the weapons were destined for Houthi rebels in Yemen.
In August 2020, the Ministry of Justice filed a complaint for the seizure of the seized weapons, which was upheld on November 15, 2021.
“In its opinion, the court found that the government duly stated that the weapons belonged to the IRGC and that the IRGC is an organization that plans or commissions a federal terrorist crime against the United States,” the Justice Department said.
US Attorney Matthew M. Graves of the District of Columbia said in a statement that the successful seizure of seized oil and weapons “demonstrates that not only can we undermine the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s ability to fund its operations with oil, but we can.” may also hinder its ability to use proceeds from such sales to arm its terrorist proxies and export terrorism abroad. ”