On August 19, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned two companies based in the United Arab Emirates for providing parts and logistics services to Iranian airline Mahan Air. “The Iranian regime uses Mahan Air as a tool to spread its destabilizing agenda around the world, including to the corrupt regimes in Syria and Venezuela, as well as terrorist groups throughout the Middle East,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.
Mahan Air was sanctioned by the United States in 2011 for providing services to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The commercial airline has ferried operatives, weapons, equipment and funds across the Middle East for the IRGC.
The two sanctioned companies, Partia Cargo and Delta Parts Supply FZC, helped Mahan Air maintain its fleet, which has an average age of 25 years. The United States also sanctioned Iranian national Amin Mahdavi for owning or controlling Parthia Cargo. “The Department of Justice, meanwhile, filed a criminal complaint against Mahdavi and Parthia Cargo alleging that they facilitated shipment to Iran of U.S.-origin goods, including commercial aircraft parts, in violation of U.S. law,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
Iranian commercial airlines have some of the world’s oldest fleets due to years of sanctions. After the 2015 Iran nuclear deal went into implementation, Iranian airlines inked deals worth billions of dollars to buy more than 100 new planes from Boeing, Airbus and other Western companies. But the United States revoked the trade licenses after it withdrew from the nuclear agreement in November 2018, which blocked Iran from receiving most of the aircraft. The following is a press release on the new sanctions.
Treasury Designates Key Actors in Mahan Air Illicit Procurement Operations
Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is designating UAE-based Parthia Cargo and Delta Parts Supply FZC for their material support of Iranian airline Mahan Air. OFAC is also designating UAE-based Iranian national Amin Mahdavi for owning or controlling Parthia Cargo. Together, these companies have provided key parts and logistics services for Mahan Air, which is designated under counterterrorism authorities for support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), as well as under a counter proliferation authority that targets weapons of mass destruction proliferators and their supporters.
“The Iranian regime uses Mahan Air as a tool to spread its destabilizing agenda around the world, including to the corrupt regimes in Syria and Venezuela, as well as terrorist groups throughout the Middle East,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The United States will continue to take action against those supporting this airline.”
The services provided by Parthia Cargo and Delta Parts Supply FZC help Mahan Air sustain its fleet of western-manufactured aircraft and allow it to support the Iranian regime’s destabilizing agenda through activities that include the transportation of terrorists and lethal cargo to Syria to prop up the murderous Assad regime, as well as the more recent transportation of Iranian technicians and technical equipment to Venezuela to support the illegitimate Maduro regime’s efforts to revive energy production ruined by corruption and mismanagement. Concurrent with OFAC’s designations, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia filed criminal charges against Parthia Cargo and Amin Mahdavi related to the alleged unlicensed re-export of U.S.-export controlled aircraft parts to Iran in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
Mahan Air has transported IRGC-QF operatives, weapons, equipment, and funds abroad in support of the terrorist group’s regional operations, and has also moved weapons and personnel for Hizballah. Since the onset of the Syrian civil war, Mahan Air has routinely flown fighters and materiel to Syria to prop up the Assad regime, which has contributed to the regime’s atrocities and displacement of civilians. In December 2019, the Department of State designated Mahan Air pursuant to E.O. 13382, a counter proliferation authority targeting weapons of mass destruction proliferators and their supporters.
Dubai-based Parthia Cargo serves as a freight forwarding agent of Mahan Air and has regularly forwarded consignments of aircraft parts, including U.S.-origin parts, from UAE directly to Mahan Air in Tehran, as well as to Mahan Air front companies in Istanbul. Parts have typically been shipped aboard regularly scheduled Mahan Air flights between Dubai and Tehran. Several additional Iranian airlines and aviation firms have also relied on Parthia Cargo to forward U.S.-origin aircraft parts to Tehran.
Dubai-based Delta Parts Supply FZC has sold key aviation goods, including U.S.-origin parts, directly to Mahan Air or its front companies. Aircraft part orders have shipped aboard the regularly scheduled Mahan Air flights from Dubai, and have utilized the freight forwarding services of Parthia Cargo.
Parthia Cargo and Delta Parts Supply FZC are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Mahan Air.
UAE-based Iranian national Amin Mahdavi is the CEO and owner of Parthia Cargo, and has directly coordinated the shipment of parts on behalf of Mahan Air. Amin Mahdavi is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for owning or controlling Parthia Cargo.
Today’s action follows recent actions targeting Mahan Air general sales agents (GSA) outside of Iran, and provides another warning to the international aviation community of the sanctions risk for individuals and entities that choose to maintain commercial relationships with Mahan Air and other designated airlines. Those in the airline industry should conduct due diligence to avoid performing services for or on behalf of a designated person, which may be sanctionable. Such activities may include freight booking, reservation and ticketing services, procurement of aircraft parts and equipment, maintenance contracts, airline grounds services, catering, interline transfer or codeshare agreements, and refueling contracts.
On July 23, 2019, OFAC issued an advisory to inform the civil aviation industry of potential exposure to U.S. government economic sanctions for providing unauthorized support to or for designated Iranian airlines, many of which, including Mahan Air, are involved in facilitating the Iranian regime’s support to proxy militias and groups it supports.
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of Parthia Cargo, Delta Parts Supply FZC, and Amin Mahdavi that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interest in property of blocked or designated persons, unless licensed or exempt.
In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with Parthia Cargo, Delta Parts Supply FZC, or Amin Mahdavi may themselves be exposed to designation. Furthermore, any foreign financial institution that knowingly conducts or facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for individuals and entities designated in connection with Iran’s support for international terrorism or any Iranian person on OFAC’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons could be subject to U.S. correspondent account or payable-through account sanctions.
Statement by Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo
Today, the United States continued its maximum pressure campaign against Iran by designating two companies and one individual for procuring parts for Mahan Air, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity. Mahan Air has a long record of ferrying weapons and terrorists around the world for Iran.
The United States designated Parthia Cargo and Delta Parts, both based in the UAE, pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for providing material support to Mahan Air, which is also designated pursuant to E.O. 13224. The United States also designated Amin Mahdavi, an Iranian national, under the same authority. The Department of Justice, meanwhile, filed a criminal complaint against Mahdavi and Parthia Cargo alleging that they facilitated shipment to Iran of U.S.-origin goods, including commercial aircraft parts, in violation of U.S. law.
Today’s designations serve as a reminder that individuals or companies who provide services for Mahan Air risk potential U.S. sanctions. We will continue our efforts until Iran behaves like a normal nation and ceases its malign activities.