The US on Tuesday placed a network of Russian and Iranian companies on an international blacklist for shipping oil to Syria in violation of US sanctions and funneling the earnings from the scheme to Iran-backed terror proxies.
Officials said the network helps fuel the Syrian war effort of President Bashar Assad while providing revenue for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah.
Placement on the list blocks any US assets and prohibits American entities or citizens from dealing with the companies.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in announcing the names Tuesday that the nine firms and people being added to the list are “critical actors” in a scheme to support Assad.
Those added to the list include a Syrian national, Mohammad Amer Alchwiki, and his Russia-based company, Global Vision Group, along with a subsidiary of the Russian Energy Ministry.
“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 Mnuchin. “Central Bank of Iran officials continue to exploit the international financial system, and in this case even used a company whose name suggests a trade in humanitarian goods as a tool to facilitate financial transfers supporting this oil scheme.”
The US Treasury said the funds generated by the oil shipments were transferred by the Assad regime to the IRGC, Hamas and Hezbollah.
“The Iranian regime continues to prioritize spending money on fomenting terror over supporting its own people,” said Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker. “This is yet another example of the regime using the proceeds of millions of barrels of its oil to fund terrorists and the murderous Assad regime to the detriment of its own people.”
The main suspect named by the US Treasury was said to be coordinating the money transfers directly with a senior Hezbollah official.
“Using the Central Bank of Syria, Alchwiki coordinates the transfers with Hezbollah official Muhammad Qasir, who heads the Hezbollah unit responsible for facilitating the transfer of weapons, technology, and other support from Syria to Lebanon,” it said.
The statement did not elaborate on how the funds were sent to the Gaza-based Hamas.
Today’s @USTreasury action targeting the Russia-Iran oil scheme to prop up Assad, and finance Hizballah & Hamas, sends a clear message: there are grave consequences for anyone shipping oil to Syria, or trying to evade U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s terrorist activities.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 20, 2018