U.S. hits Russian-Iranian oil network with sanctions

In the latest round of U.S. sanctions against networks that support terrorism, the United States designated nine entities involved in an elaborate scheme to supply Iranian oil to the Assad regime in exchange for the movement of hundreds of millions of dollars to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force, and for onward transfer to terrorist organizations such as HAMAS and Hizballah.

Central to the scheme: Mohammad Amer Alchwiki, who owns a Russia-based company that worked with a subsidiary of the Russian Ministry of Energy, the Treasury Department said November 20.

Chart showing connections among the Global Vision Group, Iran, Russia, Syria and terrorist groups (State Dept.)
(State Dept.)

“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,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

The United States has aggressively targeted people and entities that support Assad in Syria for the regime’s “continued atrocities” against the Syrian people. The U.S. likewise has reimposed sanctions against the Iranian regime for its illegal nuclear weapons program and support of terrorism worldwide.

Alchwiki’s Russia-based company, called Global Vision Group, ultimately facilitated:

  • The transport of oil from the National Iranian Oil Company to Syrian government-controlled ports using vessels concealing their delivery destination in Syria.
  • Payments in U.S. dollars from Iran to Russian companies in support of the Syrian regime.
  • The transfer of hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars from Iran to terrorist organizations, including specially designated global terrorist groups Hizballah and HAMAS.

The U.S. also issued an advisory to the maritime community, warning companies of the risks of shipping oil to the government of Syria. The advisory included a list of vessels known to have delivered oil to Syria since 2016.

“The United States is committed to imposing a financial toll on Iran, Russia, and others for their efforts to solidify Assad’s authoritarian rule,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, “as well as disrupt the Iranian regime’s funding of terrorist organizations.”

The U.S. in October also sanctioned a foundation of Iranian businesses that was funneling money to a paramilitary group that trains child soldiers to fight in Syria and elsewhere.