US Targets Network of Companies Breaking Iran Sanctions

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
January 24, 2020Updated: January 24, 2020

The U.S. Treasury Department said it had sanctioned several companies that traded hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Iranian petroleum and petrochemicals, providing concealed support to Iran amid tensions between the two nations.

In a press release Thursday, the department said it clamped down on Hong Kong-based Triliance Petrochemical Co. Ltd., Sage Energy HK Limited, China-based Peakview Industry Co. Limited, and United Arab Emirates-based Beneathco DMCC for their dealings with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), an entity instrumental in Iran’s petroleum and petrochemical industries.

The department said the transactions helped finance Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force and its terrorist proxies. It added that the entities are major sources of revenue for the Iranian regime, funding its “malign activities” throughout the Middle East.

“The entities targeted today facilitate Iran’s petrochemical and petroleum exports in contravention of U.S. economic sanctions,” the Treasury Department said.

Triliance Petrochemical last year ordered the equivalent of millions of dollars to be transferred to NIOC as payment for Iranian petrochemicals, crude oil, and petroleum products shipped to the United Arab Emirates and China after the expiration of any applicable exceptions, the department said. In facilitating these shipments, Triliance then worked to conceal the Iranian origin of these products, it added.

The sanctions would freeze all assets held by the companies that fall under U.S. jurisdiction, generally bar U.S. companies and individuals from dealing with them, and potentially subject non-U.S. financial institutions that knowingly facilitate “significant transactions” for them to U.S. sanctions.

The U.S. government also imposed sanctions on two other companies: Jiaxiang Industry Hong Kong Limited and Shandong Oiwangwa Petrochemical Co Ltd, as well as two individuals: Ali Bayandrian, who is linked to Triliance Petroleum; and Zhiqing Wang, a Chinese national linked to Shandong Oiwangwa.

The announcements are the latest step in the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign designed to squeeze the Iranian economy to try to force Iran to accept greater constraints on its nuclear program, regional activities, and pursuit of ballistic missiles.

“Iran’s petrochemical and petroleum sectors are primary sources of funding for the Iranian regime’s global terrorist activities and enable its persistent use of violence against its own people,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement.

The sanctions come amid heightened U.S.-Iranian tensions after a U.S. airstrike killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in early January.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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