US sanctions Iran, Russian companies over alleged oil shipments to Syria
Washington has introduced new sanctions targeting an international network in which Iran and Russian companies allegedly send oil to Syria, the US Department of the Treasury said in a press release on Tuesday, Sputnik reported.
"Today, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is designating nine targets in an international network through which the Iranian regime, working with Russian companies, provides millions of barrels of oil to the Syrian government," the release said.
The sanctions list includes three Russian companies and one Russian national, claimed by the Treasury to be involved in petroleum shipments to Syria.
Thus, the sanctions have been imposed against Russian entities — Global Vision Group, Prommsyrioimport and MB Bank — and one Iranian company Tadbir Kish Medical and Pharmaceutical Co., the department's statement said. The Treasury also sanctioned six individuals, including Russian citizen Andrey Dogaev, who is the first deputy director of Promsyrioimport.
"Today we are acting against a complex scheme Iran and Russia have used to bolster the Assad regime and generate funds for Iranian malign activity," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, commenting on the move.
The Treasury blamed the Central Bank of Iran officials of "exploitation of the international financial system" and "use a company whose name suggests a trade in humanitarian goods as a tool to facilitate financial transfers supporting this oil scheme".
The sanctioned list of officials includes International Department Director Rasul Sajjad and Vice Governor for International Affairs Hossein Yaghoobi, claimed to be assisting in transfers of funds used to pay for the oil.
Apart from the punitive measures, the Treasury has warned international shipping companies and vessels operators about its commitment to disrupt all petroleum shipments to Syrian state-owned ports.
"The United States is committed to disrupting illicit financial and other support to the Syrian Government, to include transporting petroleum to its state-owned and operated ports, regardless of the location or nationality of those facilitating such support," the statement said.
Moscow, as well as Iran, are yet to comment on these accusations and sanctions.
Shorty before that, US Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey stated that the recently imposed second batch of US sanctions against Tehran might help force Iran to reduce its presence in Syria.