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U.S. Confirms Seizure of Illicit Iranian Oil Cargo Aboard Tanker Suez Rajan Earlier This Year
By Sea and Coast | 11/09/2023

U.S. Confirms Seizure of Illicit Iranian Oil Cargo Aboard Tanker Suez Rajan Earlier This Year

The United States has officially acknowledged the confiscation of cargo, which consisted of approximately 980,000 barrels of Iranian oil earlier this year. This incident had led to increased tensions in the Gulf region.


While the initial report of the seizure came from Reuters, the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed this development on a Friday, providing additional details.


In April, Reuters had exposed that the U.S. had seized cargo carried by the tanker Suez Rajan, which was loaded with Iranian oil. The U.S. Department of Justice stated that this illegal sale and transportation of Iranian oil had violated U.S. sanctions. Furthermore, details of a plea agreement involving the parties concerned were made public.


The unloading of the tanker took place in August after it had spent two and a half months anchored off the coast of Texas.


According to reports, the company Suez Rajan Ltd pleaded guilty and received a 3-year corporate probation along with a $2.5 million fine.


The operating company, Empire Navigation, cooperated in transporting the Iranian oil to the United States, earning commendation for its actions.


Mark Wallace, CEO of the U.S. advocacy group 'United Against Nuclear Iran,' remarked, “It’s a message to every Iranian smuggler that there is an off-ramp from the mob.” Wallace, who utilizes satellite imagery to track tanker movements, was the first to notice that the Suez Rajan had received the oil from another vessel.


Individuals involved in this fraudulent activity attempted to obscure the origin of the oil through tactics such as ship-to-ship transfers and the use of counterfeit documents. The charterer of the vessel used the US financial system to carry Iranian oil.


Based on terrorist and money laundering statutes, the illegal cargo is expected to face civil forfeiture action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Funds seized in connection with terrorism may be allocated to the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund.


Suez Rajan Ltd has indicated its willingness to forfeit all interests associated with the cargo and waive any challenges.

"U.S. confirms seizure of illicit Iranian oil aboard tanker Suez Rajan, sending a clear message on enforcing sanctions. Legal actions taken against parties involved. #IranOil #Sanctions"