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Thursday, February 2, 2023

U.S. Seizes Websites Used by Iranian Front Company that Was Sending Fuel Tankers to Venezuela

On August 28, the Justice Department announced the seizure of three websites used by three front companies: Mobin International, Sohar Fuel, and Oman Fuel, who arranged a multimillion dollar fuel shipment by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization, that was bound for Venezuela. 

On July 2, 2020, the United States filed a complaint seeking to forfeit all petroleum-product cargo aboard four foreign-flagged oil tankers, including the M/T Bella with International Maritime Organization (IMO) number 9208124, the M/T Bering with IMO number 9149225, the M/T Pandi with IMO number 9105073, and the M/T Luna with IMO number 9208100.  A seizure order for the cargo from all four vessels was issued by U.S. District Court Judge Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

On August 14, 2020, the United States announced that it successfully executed the seizure order and confiscated the cargo from all four vessels, totaling approximately 1.116 million barrels of petroleum. With the assistance of foreign partners, this seized property is now in U.S. custody.  

Funds successfully forfeited with a connection to a state sponsor of terrorism may in whole or in part be directed to the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund after the conclusion of the case.

The forfeiture complaint alleged how Mohammad Madanipour used a web of front companies, including Mobin International to perpetrate this scheme. The websites for Mobin International and related front companies, Sohar Fuel, and Oman Fuel, now display a splash page noting control by the U.S. government. 

Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2232, interfering with lawful execution of the United States seizure order may subject a party to criminal penalties for interfering with the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court for District of Columbia over the petroleum cargo.

Homeland Security Investigations’ Colorado Springs and FBI’s Minneapolis field office are investigating the case. The case is being handled by the National Security Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. The Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section is managing the seizure and forfeiture process.  Assistant U.S Attorneys Zia M. Faruqui, Brian Hudak, Stuart Allen, and Jessi Brooks, and National Security Division Trial Attorney David Lim are litigating the case, with assistance from Paralegal Specialists Elizabeth Swienc, Legal Assistant Jessica McCormick, and Records Examiner Angela De Falco.

Read the announcement at the Department of Justice

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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