US targets companies dealing in Iranian oil through Gulf proxies

Washington has targetted companies dealing in Iranian petroleum products for China and East Asia through Gulf proxies to put pressure on Iran.

These companies include Edgar Commercial Solutions FZE, Lustro Industry Limited and Ali Almutawa Petroleum and Petrochemical Trading LLC.

“Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned an international network of individuals and entities that has used a web of Gulf-based front companies to facilitate the delivery and sale of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products from Iranian companies to East Asia”, Washington said in a statement.

And froze their America assets and barred Americans from dealing with them. This step is seen as fresh pressure on Iran in a bid to revive the nuclear deal signed with Trehan in 2015, says a media report .

The US Treasury also targetted Iran-based Jam Petrochemical Co, accusing it of exporting petrochemical products to several East Asia companies, which in turn shipped to China.

“While the United States is committed to achieving an agreement with Iran that seeks a mutual return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we will continue to use all our authorities to enforce sanctions on the sale of Iranian petroleum and petrochemicals,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson.

Concurrently with Treasury’s designations, the Department of State imposed sanctions on five entities based in Iran, Vietnam, and Singapore and two vessels in connection with significant transactions for the sale and transport of petroleum products from Iran, on or after November 5, 2018.

According to a US Treasury statement, Edgar Commercial Solutions FZE bought and exported petrochemical products from sanctioned Iranian companies. It used Hong Kong-based front company Lustro Industry Limited, also designated on Wednesday, to disguise its role in the bulk purchase of petrochemical products.

Ali Almutawa Petroleum and Petrochemical Trading LLC, is described as a front company for US-sanctioned Triliance Petrochemical Co Limited, according to the statement.

Iran-based Jam Petrochemical Company (JPC) has exported hundreds of thousands of metric tons of petrochemical products, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, to companies throughout East Asia, according to the US Treasury statement. Many of these products were sold to Iran-based Iran Petrochemical Commercial Company (PCC) for onward shipment to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). JPC has aided PCC in facilitating the use of front bank accounts and companies in order to obfuscate the shipment and sale of Iranian origin petrochemicals. By these means, in mid to late 2021, JPC sold hundreds of thousands of metric tons of petrochemicals worth millions of dollars to PCC with the intent to deliver the goods to the PRC and the Philippines, the statemennt said.

About Edgar Commercial Solutions FZE, the statement said, it purchased and exported hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of petrochemical products from numerous sanctioned Iranian companies, including Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry Commercial Company (PGPICC) and Arya Sasol Polymer Company, for onward shipment to the China. It used Hong Kong-based front company Lustro Industry Limited to disguise its role in the bulk purchase of petrochemical products from PGPICC and JPC.

Through Lustro Industry Limited, Edgar Commercial Solutions FZE has remitted millions of dollars to Oligei International Trading Co. Limited, a PGPICC front company, for the purchase of petrochemical products from PGPICC.

Treasury-designated Triliance Petrochemical Co. Ltd. (Triliance) has used its UAE-based front company Ali Almutawa Petroleum and Petrochemical Trading L.L.C (Ali Almutawa) to send and receive tens of millions of dollars’ worth of payments related to the sale and purchase of Iranian petroleum products, including gasoline and naphtha.

One of Ali Almutawa’s customers is UAE-based Petrokick LLC, which purchased millions of oil products from Behran Oil for onward shipment to the UAE.

Since 2019, UAE-based Iranian nationals Morteza Rajabieslami (Rajabieslami) and Mahdieh Sanchuli (Sanchuli) have partnered to export Iranian crude oil and petrochemical products on behalf of Switzerland-based Naftiran Intertrade Company (NICO), the marketing arm of NIOC, through companies and vessels under their control.

Rajabieslami owns an extensive network of companies engaged in refining, energy trading, shipping, and bunkering, which have facilitated the shipment of thousands of tons of fuel oil from Iran. These companies have been involved in contracts related to the sale of petroleum products from NICO.

Sanchuli, an experienced petroleum sales facilitator who has served as a representative of UAE-based companies Petrogat FZE and Emerald Global FZE, has purchased from NICO.

Morteza Rajabieslami, Mahdieh Sanchuli, Petrogat FZE, and Emerald Global FZE are being designated for ‘having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, NICO’.

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS

“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these targets that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons”.

“In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individuals and entities designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action. Furthermore, unless an exception applies, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for any of the individuals or entities designated today could be subject to U.S. sanctions’, the Treasury statement said..

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