The US Federal Court in the District of Columbia has issued an arrest warrant for Iranian oil tanker, the Grace 1, the US Department of Justice announced in a statement.
“A seizure warrant and forfeiture complaint were unsealed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that Oil Tanker “Grace 1,” all petroleum aboard it and $995,000.00 are subject to forfeiture based on violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), bank fraud statute, and money laundering statute, as well as separately the terrorism forfeiture statute,” the statement reads.
“The documents allege a scheme to unlawfully access the U.S. financial system to support illicit shipments to Syria from Iran by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization,” according to the statement from the US Department of Justice.
“The scheme involves multiple parties affiliated with the IRGC and furthered by the deceptive voyages of the Grace 1. A network of front companies allegedly laundered millions of dollars in support of such shipments.”
On July 4, Gibraltar’s authorities detained the Grace 1 oil tanker flying the Panamanian flag on suspicion of carrying oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions. The operation involved British marines.
According to Gibraltar’s authorities, there were 28 crew members onboard the vessel, including nationals of India, Pakistan and Ukraine. In response, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the British ambassador to Tehran. Spain’s Acting Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said that the oil tanker had been detained at the United States’ request.