- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Trump administration slapped sanctions Tuesday on individuals and companies involved in what U.S. officials call a complex scheme to send illicit oil shipments to Syria from Iran with backing from Russia.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated nine targets in the international network through which the Iranian regime provides millions of barrels of oil to the Syrian government, in violation of U.S. sanctions.

U.S. officials said the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad then transfers hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force, which funnels the cash to the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

“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,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The United States is committed to imposing a financial toll on Iran, Russia, and others for their efforts to solidify Assad’s authoritarian rule, as well as disrupt the Iranian regime’s funding of terrorist organizations.”

The action expands sanctions on Iran that the administration reimposed on Nov. 5 after the U.S. withdrew from the Obama-era Iranian nuclear deal. Officials said the latest move is further proof that the administration will keep up a “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran to crack down on Tehran’s support of extremism.

All assets of the targets subject to U.S. jurisdiction will be frozen, and U.S. companies are prohibited from doing business with them.

Those added to the list include Syrian national Mohammad Amer Alchwiki and his Russia-based company, Global Vision Group. Also sanctioned was Promsyrioimport, a subsidiary of Russia’s Energy Ministry, which helps facilitate payments to Iran, according to the Treasury statement.

The deputy head of Promsyrioimport, Andrey Dogaev, was also sanctioned. Other designated entities include Iran-based Tadbir Kish Medical and Pharmaceutical Company and the Moscow-based Mir Business Bank.

In Moscow, officials dismissed the sanctions as illegal.

“The fresh American sanctions are absolutely illegal and unlawful,” Leonid Slutsky, head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of the Russian parliament, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. “The United States is the only country in the world that uses extraterritorial law and violates other countries’ jurisdiction through legislation.”

⦁ This article was based in part on wire service reports.

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