(ThePatriotWire)- Last Wednesday, the Treasury Department sanctioned an international network of companies for allegedly violating Iranian oil sanctions by selling Iran’s oil to China and other countries in east Asia.
According to a statement from Treasury, the companies are accused of facilitating the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars in Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products by using a “web of Gulf-based front companies” to hide the fact that the petroleum came from Iran.
Also on Wednesday, the State Department announced parallel sanctions on fifteen individuals and entities that were engaging in “the illicit sales and shipment” of Iran’s petroleum and petrochemical products.
The companies in question are located in Iran, Vietnam, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and Hong Kong. They include the Iran-based Jam Petrochemical Company, the UAE-based companies Edgar Commercial Solutions FZE, Ali Almutawa Petroleum, and Petrochemical Trading, and a front company based in Hong Kong, Lustro Industry, Ltd.
Wednesday’s action by Treasury freezes the US assets of the companies sanctioned and generally bars Americans from doing business with them.
Brian Nelson, the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence said on Wednesday that while the US remains committed to achieving a nuclear agreement with Iran, the United States will “continue to use all our authorities to enforce sanctions on the sale of Iranian petroleum and petrochemicals.”
Refineries in China have been purchasing large quantities of Iranian oil over the past two years despite US sanctions on Iran’s oil exports. Iran’s economy relies on oil and Chinese imports have kept Iran’s economy afloat.
In mid-June, the US imposed sanctions on Iranian petrochemical producers and front companies in China and the UAE that were supporting Hong Kong-based Triliance Petrochemical Company and Iran’s Petrochemical Commercial Company.
Former Treasury official Brian O’Toole told Reuters that so long as Iran is hesitant to return to the negotiating table, it is likely Washington will lean more heavily on China “because that was the clear point of leakage in the sanctions regime.”