U.S Confirms Seizing Illicit Iranian Oil Cargo Onboard Tanker Suez Rajan Earlier This Year

The U.S. has agreed that it confiscated cargo comprising around 980,000 barrels of Iranian Oil this year, an incident that escalated tensions in the Gulf region.

Image for representation purposes only

Although the seizure was first reported by Reuters, the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed the news on Friday and gave out more details.

In April, Reuters revealed that the U.S. seized cargo onboard the tanker Suez Rajan loaded with Iranian Oil. The U.S. Department of Justice said that the illegal sale and transport of Iranian Oil violated U.S. sanctions. A plea agreement between those involved was also made public.

The tanker was unloaded in August after waiting for two and a half months off the Texas coast.

Per reports, the Suez Rajan Ltd company pleaded guilty and was given a 3-year corporate probation and a $2.5 million fine.

The operating company, Empire Navigation, cooperated and transported the Iranian Oil to the U.S., for which it was applauded.

Mark Wallace, chief executive of the U.S. advocacy group ‘United Against Nuclear Iran’, said, “It’s a message to every Iranian smuggler that there is an off-ramp from the mob.” Mark uses satellite imagery to track the movement of tankers, and he first noticed that the tanker Suez Rajan had taken on the Oil from another tanker.

People involved in the fraudulent activity tried to disguise the Oil’s origin by employing tactics like ship-to-ship transfers, fake documents, etc. The vessel’s charterer used the financial system of the U.S. to transport Iranian Oil.

The contraband cargo will likely face civil forfeiture action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia based on terrorism and money laundering statutes. The forfeited funds connected to terrorism may be sent to the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund.

Suez Rajan Ltd is ready to forfeit all interests with the cargo and waive all challenges.

References: Reuters, Al-Jazeera

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