US designates oil smuggling network linked to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iran’s Quds Force

The network would blend oil to conceal the Iranian origins of the shipments and export it around the world in support of Hezbollah and the IRGC-QF.

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The US announced Thursday the designation of members of an international oil smuggling network that facilitated oil trades and generated revenue for Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iran’s Quds Force.

The network includes individuals and several front companies and vessels that worked to blend oil to conceal the Iranian origins of the shipments and exporting it around the world in support of Hezbollah and the IRGC-QF, according to a statement from the Treasury Department.

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“The individuals running this illicit network use a web of shell companies and fraudulent tactics including document falsification to obfuscate the origins of Iranian oil, sell it on the international market, and evade sanctions,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson.

“Market participants should be vigilant of Hezbollah and the IRGC-QF’s attempts to generate revenue from oil smuggling to enable their terrorist activities around the world.”

The latest US move against Iranian oil smuggling comes as efforts to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal have stalled and ties between the Islamic Republic and the West are increasingly strained as Iranians keep up anti-government protests.

The move targeted a Gulf-based network of individuals and companies that the Treasury said as of mid-2022 were blending and exporting Iranian oil. The network used storage units in the Port of Sharjah in the UAE and blended products of Indian origin with Iranian oil to obfuscate the origin, Washington said.

The companies modified or created counterfeit certificates of origin and quality for the oil, which was then transferred for sale abroad, Treasury said. Some oil sales were planned to Asia buyers as of late 2021.

Read more: Cash from new deal with Iran will give boost to Lebanon’s Hezbollah: Report

With Reuters