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DOJ Announces First Corporate Resolution Involving Sanctioned Iranian Oil

DOJ last week announced its "first-ever criminal resolution" involving a company that violated sanctions by facilitating the sale and transport of Iranian oil. The agency said the cargo -- more than 980,000 barrels of Iranian oil that was allegedly shipped by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps -- is now the subject of a civil forfeiture action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The forfeiture complaint alleges the oil is "subject to forfeiture based on U.S. terrorism and money laundering statutes," DOJ said Sept. 8.

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The U.S. alleged a scheme involving "multiple entities affiliated with Iran's IRGC and the IRGC-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to covertly sell and transport Iranian oil to a customer abroad." As part of the scheme, participants allegedly tried to hide the oil's origin by using ship-to-ship transfers, fake automatic identification system reporting and falsified documents. The oil is the property of the IRGC and IRGC-QF, both of which are designated foreign terrorist organizations, DOJ said.

In April, Empire Navigation, the company operating the vessel, agreed to ship the Iranian oil to the U.S. as part of a deferred prosecution agreement and a seizure warrant, DOJ. The agency said the operation has been completed.