U.S. Imposes Sanctions On Covert Iranian Oil-Shipping Network

By MarEx 2013-03-14 14:53:00

The United States on Thursday slapped financial sanctions on a Greek businessman for secretly operating a shipping network on behalf of the Iranian government to get around international sanctions on the country's sale of oil.

"Today, we are lifting the veil on an intricate Iranian scheme that was designed to evade international oil sanctions," U.S. Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence David Cohen said in a statement.

The move named Dimitris Cambis and a number of front companies for buying tankers on behalf of the National Iranian Tanker Company, barring U.S. citizens from doing business with them and freezing any of their assets under U.S. jurisdiction.

Sanctions were introduced last year by the West to choke Tehran's funding of its nuclear program by targeting the country's oil exports. The West believes Iran is developing weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

The new sanctions halved Iran's oil exports in 2012 by more than 1 million barrels per day, about the amount that oil production grew in the United States during that time, and Washington has been at pains to keep up the pressure.

"We will continue to expose deceptive Iranian practices, and to sanction those individuals and entities who participate in these schemes," Cohen said.

The targeted network bought and operated eight tankers, each able to carry roughly $200 million of oil per shipment.

"These operations are conducted through a series of ship-to-ship transfers in an attempt to mask the fact that the true origin of the oil is from Iran and to introduce it into the global market as if it were non-Iranian oil," Treasury said.

Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Vicki Allen (C) Reuters 2013.