U.S. seeks seizure of Venezuela-bound Iranian gasoline from four Greek-managed tankers

Written by Nick Blenkey
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The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a forfeiture warrant and complaint seeking the seizure of all Iranian petroleum products aboard four Greek-managed, Liberian-flagged tankers currently headed for Venezuela.

The ships are the Bella (IMO No. 9208124) and the Luna (IMO 9208100), which according to the Equasis data base are managed by Vienna Ltd of Piraeus, and the Bering (IMO 9149225) and Pandi ( IMO 9105073), both managed, according to Equasis, by Palermo SA of Piraeus.

According to the Department of Justice, the forfeiture complaint and warrant allege a scheme involving multiple parties affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to covertly ship Iranian gasoil, obtained via ship-to-ship transfers, to Venezuela.

The shipments are alleged to be a “source of influence” for the IRGC, which is designated by the U.S. asforeign terrorist organization. The documents allege that profits from petroleum sales “support the IRGC’s full range of nefarious activities, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, support for terrorism, and a variety of human rights abuses, at home and abroad.”

There are approximately 302,502 barrels of Iranian gasoline currently on board the Bella, approximately 302,522 barrels of Iranian gasoline currently on board the Bering, approximately 259,700 barrels of Iranian gasoline currently on board the Luna, and approximately 298,484 barrels of Iranian gasoline currently on board the Pandi.

United States District Judge James E. Boasberg has issued a warrant to seize all Iranian gasoline on these four vessels, based on a probable cause showing of forfeitability. The warrant commands the property be brought to the sole jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

  • Download the forfeiture complaint HERE
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