Security

US government sanctions global oil broker network supporting IRGC

By Al-Mashareq

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The Iranian-flagged oil tanker Fortune is docked at the El Palito refinery after its arrival to Puerto Cabello in the northern state of Carabobo, Venezuela, on May 25, 2020. [AFP]

WASHINGTON -- The United States imposed on Friday (August 13) sanctions on members of an international oil smuggling network that has provided support for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF).

The US Treasury Department targeted an oil broker from Oman who has partnered with senior IRGC-QF officials and used several companies to facilitate shipments of Iranian oil to foreign customers despite sanctions on Iran.

Mahmood Rashid Amur al-Habsi "has facilitated the sale and shipment of Iranian oil through his companies to obscure the IRGC-QF's involvement", the Treasury said.

"Al-Habsi's companies have transported shipments worth tens of millions of dollars," it added.

The oil broker has worked in partnership with senior IRGC-QF officials, including Rostam Ghasemi, who was designated in 2019 for acting on behalf of the Quds Force.

"As part of his oversight of shipping operations, al-Habsi has tampered with the automated identification systems that are onboard vessels, forged shipping documents, and paid bribes, circumventing restrictions related to Iran."

According to the Treasury, al-Habsi also used Oman-based Orbit Petrochemicals Trading to facilitate Iranian oil deals that obscure the IRGC-QF's involvement. The company is being sanctioned.

Also designated are Romania-based Nimr International and Bravery Maritime Corporation, a Liberian-registered company, which are owned, controlled or directed by al-Habsi.

The Liberian-flagged crude oil tanker Oman Pride, which has been used to transport Iranian oil, is being identified as property in which Bravery Maritime Corporation has an interest.

Oil revenue to fund malign activities

For a long time, the IRGC-QF has been using the income from Iran's petroleum sales to fund interventionist activities in the region and to pursue its expansionist policies.

It is doing so "at the expense of the Iranian people", the Treasury stated on Friday.

"The United States will continue to expose and disrupt those supporting such efforts," it said.

The US government has previously designated the National Iranian Oil Company, Iran's petroleum ministry and the National Iranian Tanker Company.

The Treasury Department issued the sanctions by linking the three entities to the IRGC-QF.

In June 2020, the United States also imposed sanctions on five Iranian ship captains who delivered oil to Venezuela.

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Iran is a terrorist state that sponsors terrorism and intervenes in other countries’ affairs.

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