Nov. 20 (UPI) -- The Treasury Department sanctioned nine targets Tuesday, accusing them of violating U.S. sanctions against Syria in a scheme to provide oil to the war-torn country in exchange for the Assad regime funding an alleged Iranian terrorism network.
The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control pointed to Syrian national businessman Amer Alchiwiki, owner of the Russian-based company Global Vision Group, as the central figure in the plot that secretly funneled oil from Iran to Syria and then Syrian funds to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which funds organizations Hamas and Hezballah.
Senior Treasury officials said Tuesday that the Central Bank of Iran also played a critical role in the deception, using transactions made to the Mir Business Bank, an Iranian bank in Russia, via the Iran-based Tadbir Kish Medical and Pharmaceutical Company for oil payments.
"Despite the reference to medical and pharmaceutical goods in its name, Tadbir Kish has been repeatedly used to facilitate transfers and support of this oil scheme," a senior Treasury official said on background late Tuesday morning. "The funds are transferred from an account at Mir Business Bank to [Russian] company Promsyrioimport to pay for the oil."
The official said Promsyrioimport is a subsidiary of the Russian Ministry of Energy, Minenergo.
"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.
"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. We are issuing an advisory today identifying the grave risks to the maritime community if they participate in shipping oil to the Government of Syria."
Sigal Mandelker, Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said the United States will aggressively impose sanctions against companies taking part in the scheme to ship oil to Syria and fund terrorists activities.
"Shipping companies, insurers, vessel owners, managers, and operators should all be aware of the grave consequences of engaging in sanctionable conduct involving Iranian oil shipments," Mandelker said.
Those being placed on the U.S. Specially Designated Nationals List and their entities will be blocked dealing with U.S. companies or individuals and U.S. persons will be generally prohibited from dealings with them.
Along with Al-Swicki, Global Vision Group, the Central Bank of Iran and Mir and Tadbir Kish, and Promsyrioimport, other treasury targets included Rasul Sajjad, the Central Bank of Iran's international department director, Hossein Yaghoobi, the bank's vice governor for international affairs, and Andrey Dogaey, the first deputy director of Promsyrioimport.