Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanganeh on Friday denied that his country has shipped gasoline to its Latin American ally for free and said Iran has already received part of the payment from Venezuela.
"Some people have claimed that we gave the gasoline to Venezuela for free. We sold our gasoline to them at the market price and had the necessary guarantees for the payment," Zanganeh said and added that a portion of the money "is already in the country".
The Iranian Oil Minister did not explain how the money has been transferred despite U.S. banking sanctions on both countries involved in the transaction. It is possible that Zanganeh is referring to gold bars allegedly carried by Iran's sanctioned Mahan Air or other channels from Venezuela to Iran.
Zaganeh also claimed that the United States tried to "bribe and threatened" the five captains of the sanctioned Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) who delivered the gasoline to Venezuela in Iranian flagged tankers. Zanganeh added that the attempt failed and the U.S. sanctioned these individuals on June 24 .
Last month, Iranian tankers carried 1.5 million barrels of gasoline and chemicals to Venezuelan refineries. The United States has also sanctioned four shipping lines and four tankers that have helped the Venezuelan oil trade.
The Iranian oil Minister also said talks are in process about the continuation of exports to Venezuela.
Last week an Iranian-flagged ship carried foodstuff and other supplies to Caracas to stock the shelves of a newly established Iranian supermarket.