U.S. Lifts Sanctions on Former Iranian Officials, Companies

On June 10, the United States lifted sanctions on three former Iranian officials and two companies previously involved in buying, selling, or transporting Iranian petrochemical products. One company was based in Hong Kong, and the other was based in mainland China. “These actions demonstrate our commitment to lifting sanctions in the event of a change in status or behavior by sanctioned persons,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. The Treasury clarified that the three men were no longer working for entities tied to Iran’s government.

Former Iranian Government Officials

  • Ahmad Ghalebani
  • Farzad Bazargan
  • Mohammad Moinie

Companies

  • Sea Charming Shipping Company (Hong Kong)
  • Aoxing Ship Management Shanghai LTD (China)

Secretary Blinken
Secretary of State Antony Blinken
The delisting was announced two days ahead of the sixth round of talks on bringing Iran and the United States back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters that the removal of sanctions had “absolutely no connection” to the diplomacy. Since April, the European Union has hosted the negotiations that include in the world’s six major powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States – and Iran. The Iranian delegation has refused to meet with the U.S. delegation since it is no longer a signatory. So European diplomats have relayed messages between the delegations based at separate hotels.

In a tweet on June 11, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said the delisting was not viewed as a sign of goodwill.  

 

On June 10, the State Department and the Treasury Department also announced sanctions on a smuggling network that funds the Houthi rebels in Yemen in cooperation with senior members of Iran’s Qods Force, the external operations arm of the Revolutionary Guards. Iran has allegedly funded and armed the Zaydi Shiite group, which took over Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, in 2014. “Led by Iran-based Houthi financier Sa’id al-Jamal, this network generates tens of millions of dollars in revenue from the sale of commodities, like Iranian petroleum, a significant portion of which is then directed through a complex network of intermediaries and exchange houses in multiple countries to the Houthis in Yemen,” the Treasury said.

The Treasury sanctioned Jamal, an Iranian national, as well as two Syrians, one Yemeni, one Indian, one Somali, and one Turkey-based businessman who holds a British passport. It also designated two companies based in the United Arab Emirates, one company based in Turkey, a Yemen-based exchange house, and a Gabon-flagged vessel that has been used to smuggle Iranian oil. “This network’s financial support enables the Houthis’ deplorable attacks threatening civilian and critical infrastructure in Yemen and Saudi Arabia,” said Andrea Gacki, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. The following are statements from the State Department and the Treasury on the delisting and the new sanctions.

 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on June 10, 2021: “Today, the United States is designating Sa’id Ahmad Muhammad al-Jamal and other individuals and entities involved in an international network he has used to provide tens of millions of dollars’ worth of funds to the Houthis in cooperation with senior officials in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF).  Those in al-Jamal’s network of front companies and intermediaries sell commodities, such as Iranian petroleum, throughout the Middle East and beyond and channel a significant portion of the revenue to the Houthis in Yemen.  We are designating al-Jamal pursuant to Executive Order (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, the IRGC-QF. 

“The 11 other individuals, companies, and vessel sanctioned today play key roles in this illicit network, including Hani ‘Abd-al-Majid Muhammad As’ad, a Yemeni accountant who has facilitated financial transfers to the Houthis, and Jami’ ‘Ali Muhammad, a Houthi and IRGC-QF associate who helped al-Jamal procure vessels, facilitate shipments of fuel, and transfer funds for the benefit of the Houthis.  These 11 individuals, entities, and vessel are being sanctioned pursuant to E.O. 13224 for their relationships with al-Jamal and other parts of this network. 

“The United States is working to help resolve the conflict in Yemen and bring lasting humanitarian relief to the Yemeni people.  The Houthis’ ongoing offensive on Marib runs directly counter to those goals, posing a threat to the already dire humanitarian situation in Yemen and potentially triggering increased fighting throughout Yemen. 

“It is time for the Houthis to accept a ceasefire and for all parties to resume political talks.  Only a comprehensive, nationwide ceasefire can bring the urgent relief needed by Yemenis, and only a peace agreement can resolve the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.  The United States will continue to apply pressure to the Houthis, including through targeted sanctions, to advance those goals.

“Additionally, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Department of State are lifting sanctions on three former Government of Iran officials, and two companies previously involved in the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport, or marketing of Iranian petrochemical products, as a result of a verified change in status or behavior on the part of the sanctioned parties.  These actions demonstrate our commitment to lifting sanctions in the event of a change in status or behavior by sanctioned persons.”

 

The Treasury Department on June 10, 2021: “Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is designating members of a smuggling network that helps fund Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and the Houthis in Yemen.  Led by Iran-based Houthi financier Sa’id al-Jamal, this network generates tens of millions of dollars in revenue from the sale of commodities, like Iranian petroleum, a significant portion of which is then directed through a complex network of intermediaries and exchange houses in multiple countries to the Houthis in Yemen.

“This network’s financial support enables the Houthis’ deplorable attacks threatening civilian and critical infrastructure in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.  These attacks undermine efforts to bring the conflict to an end and, most tragically, starve tens of millions of innocent civilians,” said Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control Andrea M. Gacki.  “Ending the suffering of millions of Yemenis is of paramount concern to the United States, and we will continue to hold accountable those responsible for widespread misery and deny them access to the global financial system.”

Today’s action is being taken pursuant to the counterterrorism authority Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended.  The IRGC-QF was designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 in 2007 for support to numerous terrorist groups.

Since the onset of the conflict in Yemen, the Houthis have relied on support from the IRGC-QF to wage their campaign against the internationally recognized Yemeni government and the Saudi-led Coalition.  Despite growing calls for peace, the Houthis have continued to escalate their lethal attacks inside Yemen and in the region, with dire consequences for Yemeni civilians and Yemen’s neighbors.  The Houthis have used ballistic missiles, explosives, naval mines, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to strike military targets, population centers, infrastructure, and nearby commercial shipping in Saudi Arabia, along key international trade routes.

Today, OFAC and the Department of State are also lifting sanctions on three former Government of Iran officials, and two companies formerly involved in the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport, or marketing of Iranian petrochemical products.  These delistings are a result of a verified change in behavior or status on the part of the sanctioned parties and demonstrate the U.S. government’s commitment to lifting sanctions in the event of a change in behavior or status for sanctioned persons.

SA’ID AL-JAMAL: FINANCIAL CONDUIT TO THE HOUTHIS

Sa’id al-Jamal, an Iran-based Houthi financial supporter, directs a network of front companies and vessels that smuggle Iranian fuel, petroleum products, and other commodities to customers throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.  A significant portion of the revenue generated from these sales is directed through a complex international network of intermediaries and exchange houses to the Houthis in Yemen.  This revenue helps fund the destabilizing regional activities of the Houthis, IRGC-QF, and others, including Hizballah.  Sa’id al-Jamal’s network has generated tens of millions of dollars in revenue through the sale of Iranian commodities to those willing to evade sanctions.  Sa’id al-Jamal also maintains connections to Hizballah and has worked with the group to send millions of dollars to support the Houthis.

Sa’id al-Jamal is 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, the IRGC-QF.

OFAC is also identifying the Gabon-flagged vessel Triple Success, which has been used by Sa’id al-Jamal to smuggle Iranian petroleum products out of Iran, as property in which Sa’id al-Jamal has an interest.

SA’ID AL-JAMAL’S INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT NETWORK

A cohort of businessmen and shipping experts support Sa’id al-Jamal’s network, enabling the illicit sale of Iranian goods abroad and the repatriation of profits to entities including the Houthis in Yemen, and the IRGC-QF.

Turkey-based Houthi-affiliate Abdi Nasir Ali Mahamud, a key business partner of Sa’id al-Jamal, acts as a financial intermediary and has coordinated the smuggling of petrochemicals for the network.  Mahamud has leveraged his position as managing director of UAE-based Adoon General Trading FZE to facilitate the transfer of millions of dollars on behalf of Sa’id al-Jamal.  Mahamud is 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, Sa’id al-Jamal.

Adoon General Trading FZE and two additional companies, UAE-based Adoon General Trading L.L.C. and Turkey-based Adoon General Trading Gida Sanayi Ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi, are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for being owned, controlled, or directed by, directly or indirectly, Mahamud.

UAE-based Indian national Manoj Sabharwal is a maritime shipping professional who manages shipping operations for Sa’id al-Jamal’s network and advises al-Jamal on smuggling Iranian oil products.  Sabharwal is responsible for coordinating shipments of Iranian petroleum products and commodities throughout the Middle East and Asia while obscuring Sa’id al-Jamal’s involvement.  Sabharwal is 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, Sa’id al-Jamal.

Hani ‘Abd-al-Majid Muhammad As’ad, a Turkey-based Yemeni accountant affiliated with the Houthis, manages Sa’id al-Jamal's finances and has used multiple bank accounts to send and receive millions of dollars in payments for Sa’id al-Jamal’s shipping operations, as well as to facilitate transfers to the Houthis in Yemen.  As’ad is 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, Sa’id al-Jamal.

Since 2017, Jami’ ‘Ali Muhammad, a Somali businessman and Houthi and IRGC-QF associate, has assisted Sa’id al-Jamal’s efforts to procure vessels, facilitate shipments of Iranian fuel, and transfer funds for the benefit of the Houthis.  Jami’ is 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, Sa’id al-Jamal.

At the direction of Sa’id al-Jamal, Turkey-based Syrian national Talib ‘Ali Husayn Al-Ahmad al-Rawi and Greece-based Syrian national Abdul Jalil Mallah have facilitated transactions worth millions of dollars to Swaid and Sons, a Yemen-based exchange house associated with the Houthis.  Sa’id al-Jamal has used Swaid and Sons to send millions of dollars to IRGC-QF officials deployed in Yemen.

Mallah has facilitated the shipment of Iranian crude oil to Syria.  Mallah has worked with Sa’id al-Jamal to send millions of dollars’ worth of Iranian crude oil to Hizballah.  Al-Rawi has worked with Sa’id al-Jamal to transfer millions of dollars from Qatirji Group purchases of Iranian petroleum products to Swaid and Sons in Yemen.  Al-Rawi, Mallah, and Swaid and Sons 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, Sa’id al-Jamal.

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS

All property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction of the persons designated are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with the designated persons or their blocked property.  In addition, foreign financial institutions that knowingly facilitate significant transactions for, or persons that provide material or certain other support to, the persons designated today risk exposure to sanctions that could sever their access to the U.S. financial system or block their property or interests in property under U.S. jurisdiction.

View identifying information on the individuals and entities designated today.