Newly released court documents and a statement made by the Department of Justice (DOJ) unveil that the US government has seized up to 1 million barrels of Iranian Crude oil reportedly bound for China.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a US-designated foreign terrorist organisation, allegedly shipped over 980,000 barrels of contraband crude oil, according to DOJ.
The US disrupted the shipment of Iranian oil onboard tanker Suez Rajan, which was a violation of US-imposed sanctions, back in April earlier this year. The statement and court documents released on 8 September confirmed the US-led seizure and expounded upon the details and consequences of the story.
The operating company of the Suez Rajan that carried the contraband oil, Empire Navigation, furthermore, agreed to cooperate and transport the Iranian oil to the US, according to DOJ, after labelling it the first criminal resolution to a sanction-breaching sale.
“This is the first-ever criminal resolution involving a company that violated sanctions by facilitating the illicit sale and transport of Iranian oil,” reads the DOJ’s statement.
This willing cooperation followed a guilty plea made by the Greek company for conspiring to breach the International Emergency Economic Power Act, reported CNN. Empire Navigation also “incurred the significant expenses associated with the vessel’s voyage” to the US.
The Suez Rajan Ltd was sentenced to three years of corporate probation accompanied by a fine of up to $2.5 million in April glowing its guilty plea, reported DOJ. The vessel was unloaded off the coast of Texas just last month after waiting up to 3 months to discharge.
The court document further noted that there were multiple entities affiliated with Iran’s IRGC and the IRGC-Qods Force involved in the scheme to covertly sell oil contraband to customers abroad illicitly.
“Participants in the scheme attempted to disguise the origin of the oil using ship-to-ship transfers, false automatic identification system reporting, falsified documents and other means.” The DOJ continued to add that “the charterer of the vessel used the US financial system to facilitate the transportation of Iranian oil”.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia will now arbitrate and determine the outcome of the contraband Iranian oil which is now subject to a civil forfeiture case. The DOJ further noted that Suez Rajan Ltd has, moreover, forfeited all interest in the cargo and has waived all challenges.
Late August of this year, Iran called upon a Swiss diplomat to arbitrate over the US seizure of Iranian crude oil from the Suez Rajan. According to Iran’s Ministry Spokesman, Nasser Kanaani, Tehran had summoned the chargé d’affaires of the Swiss Embassy in Iran to strongly condemn the US seizure of the oil.