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US Indicts Two Iran Operatives For Sanctions Violations

In this file photo taken on October 18, 2018, the US Treasury Department building in Washington, DC.
In this file photo taken on October 18, 2018, the US Treasury Department building in Washington, DC.

Criminal charges have been filed Friday against two Iranian nationals for circumventing U.S. Iran sanctions, money laundering and breaking export laws by purchasing an oil tanker from a U.S. seller.

“Amir Dianat, 55, and Kamran Lajmiri, 42, both Iranian nationals, were charged with violating U.S. export laws and sanctions against Iran in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia”, a statement by U.S. attorneys said.

The whereabouts of the two individuals is not mentioned in the statement.

The United States also imposed sanctions Dianat, an Iranian-Iraqi businessman and his mining company, accusing him of involvement in efforts by Iran's elite Qods (Quds) Force to generate revenue illegally and smuggle weapons abroad, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a separate statement.

Amir Dianat has supported Qods Force smuggling operations for years, including efforts aimed at shipping weapons such as missiles and smuggling shipments from Iran to Yemen, the department said.

The sanctions freeze any U.S.-held assets of Dianat or his company Taif Mining Services, which the U.S. Treasury Department alleged was a front company for the Qods Force, and generally bar Americans from dealing with them.

"The Iranian regime and its supporters continue to prioritize the funding of international terrorist organizations over the health and well-being of the Iranian people," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.

A related complaint was also filed alleging that $12 million is subject to forfeiture as funds involved in the crimes and as assets of a foreign terrorist organization.

The forfeiture action marks the largest ever seizure of Qods Force-related funds, it said.

The complaint alleges that Dianat and Lajmiri in 2019 conspired to purchase a petroleum tanker in a scheme involving the National Iranian Oil Company, the National Iranian Tanker Company and the Quds Force, all blacklisted by the United States.

If convicted of the criminal charges, Dianat and Lajmiri would face a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.

"These defendants purchased a crude oil tanker valued at over $10 million by illegally using the U.S. financial system, defiantly violating U.S. sanctions," Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in the statement.