Following the announcement of new sanctions on targeted at companies and individuals that aid Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, Bloomberg News reports today that the U.S. Treasury Department will freeze all American assets belonging to the National Iranian Tanker Co. Indira A.R. Lakshmanan reports:
The Obama administration sanctioned the National Iranian Tanker Co. and four alleged front companies for Iran’s oil trade, the latest salvo in a U.S.-led campaign to curtail Iran’s petroleum sales until it abandons illicit aspects of its disputed nuclear program.
The U.S. Treasury Department announced yesterday it would freeze American assets belonging to the tanker operator, known as NITC, and block the company’s transactions from the U.S. financial system. The Treasury said Iran’s government controls the company, a former subsidiary of the state-owned National Iranian Oil Co. that was officially privatized 12 years ago.
The Treasury identified 27 entities affiliated with the tanker company and 58 vessels—some of which have been reflagged in other countries to evade international sanctions on Iran’s petroleum sales.
The U.S. action doesn’t impose penalties on non-American companies that continue to do business with NITC. The move is intended to expose the tanker company’s links to the Iranian regime and discourage refiners, traders and shippers from dealing in Iranian oil that may be disguised as crude from another country, according to three officials in President Barack Obama’s administration who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be named.
‘These identifications highlight Iran’s attempts to evade sanctions through the use of front companies, as well as its attempts to conceal its tanker fleet by repainting, reflagging, or disabling GPS devices,’ the Treasury said in a statement…
Representative Howard Berman, a California Democrat who in January proposed legislation to sanction NITC and the National Iranian Oil Co., said the Treasury’s move was ‘a step in the right direction, but we still have a long road ahead of us…’
The Treasury yesterday also identified what it called four ‘front companies’ engaged in Iran’s oil trade that could be used to circumvent sanctions: Petro Suisse Intertrade Company SA (Petro Suisse), incorporated in Switzerland; Hong Kong Intertrade Company, based in Hong Kong; Noor Energy (Malaysia) Ltd, incorporated in Malaysia; and Petro Energy Intertrade Company, operating out of Dubai.
The Treasury Department said all four were fronts for the National Iranian Oil Co. or Naftiran Intertrade Company Ltd., known as NICO, and its affiliates.
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