U.S. Justice Department Sells Off Seized Iranian Gasoline

Iranian product tanker arriving in Venezuela (file image)

Published Oct 30, 2020 9:16 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it has sold four cargoes of Iranian gasoline that were seized from commercial tankers on the high seas. The sale totaled about 1.1 million barrels and netted about $40 million in proceeds. The buyers were not disclosed. 

According to the Justice Department's complaint, the shipments were intended for delivery to Venezuela and were set up by Iranian national Mahmoud Madanipour, who allegedly has ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The Iranian and Venezuelan petroleum sectors are both covered by strict American sanctions measures. 

“Iran continues to be a leading state sponsor of terrorism and a worldwide destabilizing force.  It is with great satisfaction that I can announce that our intentions are to take the funds successfully forfeited from the fuel sales and provide them to the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund after the conclusion of the case," said John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. 

The disbursement has not yet been completed, as the ownership of the fuel is still contested in a separate civil suit. Three trading firms - Mobin International Ltd., Oman Fuel and Sohar Fuel - have filed a claim to the four cargoes, asserting that they were "destined for Trinidad for sale to customers in Peru and Colombia." The U.S. Treasury has sanctioned two of these companies, Mobin and Oman Fuel, for allegedly assisting Iran with its efforts to export petroleum products. 

The Justice Department also announced that it has filed a complaint to forfeit two shipments of Iranian missiles that the U.S. Navy seized while they were in transit from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to militant groups in Yemen.