The US government seized nearly 1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil allegedly bound for China, according to newly unsealed court documents and a statement released by the Department of Justice on Friday.
“This is the first-ever criminal resolution involving a company that violated sanctions by facilitating the illicit sale and transport of Iranian oil,” according to the DOJ.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a US-designated foreign terrorist organization, allegedly shipped more than 980,000 barrels of oil, the press release stated.
The DOJ claimed that “multiple entities affiliated with Iran’s IRGC and the IRGC-Qods Force” were involved in the scheme to “disguise the origin of the oil” and illegally sell it to China, according to court documents.
The court filings also show allegations that “profits from oil sales support the IRGC’s full range of malign activities, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, support for terrorism and both domestic and international human rights abuses.”
In April, the company operating the ship carrying the oil, Empire Navigation, pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. The IRCG was fined almost $2.5 million and was sentenced to three years of corporate probation. The company’s vessel, Suez Rajan Limited, transported the contraband to the US and “incurred the significant expenses associated with the vessel’s voyage to the United States,” according to the DOJ.