The United States is offering cash rewards to captains of Iranian tankers in a bid to “disrupt and deter illicit oil exports” of the Iranian regime as part of their “maximum pressure” campaign, a report by the Financial Times shows.
According to the report, the Indian captain of the Adrian Darya 1 – formally known as the Grace 1 – received an email from the US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook in which he was offered several million dollars if he steered the Iranian vessel toward a country that would seize it on behalf of Washington.
“With this money you can have any life you wish and be well-off in old age,” Hook wrote in one of several emails to Kumar seen by the Financial Times. “If you choose not to take this easy path, life will be much harder for you,” Hook also warned in the message.
According to Hook, the offer was part of the US State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program established in 1984 in which the US Secretary of State is authorized to offer and pay cash rewards to persons with counter-terror information.
“The majority of reward offers are up to $5 million; however, all reward payments are made at the sole discretion of the Secretary of State,” according to the State Department.
“We have seen the Financial Times article and can confirm that the details are accurate,” a State Department spokeswoman was quoted by AFP as saying.
“We have conducted extensive outreach to several ship captains as well as shipping companies warning them of the consequences of providing support to a foreign terrorist organization,” she said, referring to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.
On Aug. 30, the US sanctioned Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1 and its captain for enabling Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps to “ship and transfer large volumes of oil… to fund the regime’s malign activities and propagate terrorism.”
The Adrian Darya 1 was ordered released by Gibraltar on August 15 and was last registered off the coast of Lebanon and Syria on Monday. A day later, it appeared to have turned off its transponder in the Mediterranean west of Syria. The vessel was detained by British Royal Marine commandos off Gibraltar on July 4 as it was suspected to be en route to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.
As part of Washington’s “maximum pressure campaign”, Hook told Al Arabiya in a previous interview that imposed oil sanctions on Iran alone will deny the regime 50 billion dollars in revenue annually, adding that the pressure is going to continue.
On Wednesday, the US sanctioned an “oil for terror” network of firms, ships, and individuals allegedly directed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that supplied Syria with oil worth hundreds of millions of dollars in breach of US sanctions.