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U.S. Blacklists Five Ships for Delivering Jet Fuel to Syria

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File image courtesy Russian Ministry of Defense

By The Maritime Executive 2019-09-27 21:59:34

The U.S. Treasury has blacklisted one company and five ships in connection with the alleged delivery of jet fuel to Russian military forces in Syria. 

The new designations target Moscow-based Maritime Assistance LLC, which allegedly operates on behalf of the U.S.-blacklisted firm OJSC Sovfracht. The Treasury asserts that Sovfracht organized an effort to circumvent American sanctions in order to continue delivering jet fuel to Russian forces operating in Syria. Russia's military provides support for the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, which has been repeatedly accused of committing atrocities against civilian populations.

A joint investigation by the FBI, the Department of Justice and the Treasury determined that Maritime Assistance LLC made payments on Sovfracht’s behalf to enable Sovfracht to continue fulfilling contracts for fuel deliveries to Syria, even after Sovfracht was blacklisted by the United States. Three Sovfracht executives - Ivan Okorokov, Karen Stepanyan and Ilya Loginov - have also been added to the sanctions list by name in connection with their alleged involvement. 

Treasury asserts that Maritime Assistance LLC's transactions facilitated the sale and delivery of jet fuel in 2016 and 2017 to Baniyas, Syria, which was used by Russian military aircraft. According to the U.S., Russia’s support of the Assad regime enabled bombing campaigns that destroyed numerous hospitals, schools, and public spaces, resulting in civilian deaths. Russia denies that any improprieties have occurred during its bombing campaign, which continues in Idlib province today. 

The five vessels named in Friday's announcement belong to Russian firm Transpetrochart, a company that has allegedly provided material support for Sovfracht. Transpetrochart is already blacklisted, but the announcement adds the Transpetrochart-controlled ships Yaz, Sig, Sudak, Passat and OT-2077 to the list by name. 

“Treasury is targeting a sanctions evasion scheme that includes front companies, vessels and conspirators who have been facilitating the illicit transfer of jet fuel to the Russian military in Syria,” said Sigal Mandelker, Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “The U.S. is determined to cut off access to the international financial system from those who conspire to violate our sanctions, including those who enable the brutal war machine in Syria.”