US warrant issued for seizure of Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar
By ICH And Agencies
August 16, 2019 "Information Clearing House" - A U.S. court has issued a warrant for the seizure of an Iranian tanker that British Royal Marines had seized last month in Gibraltar, a court document showed on Friday.
The oil tanker Grace 1, the more than 2 million barrels of oil it carries and $995,000 are subject to forfeiture based on a complaint by the U.S. government, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu said in a news release.
The Justice Department alleged the ship was part of a scheme "to unlawfully access the US financial system to support illicit shipments to Syria from Iran by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps," which the US has designated a foreign terrorist organization.
The warrant says the vessel, which remained anchored in the British Mediterranean territory late Friday, and all the oil aboard are subject to forfeiture based on violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as well as bank fraud, money laundering, and terrorism statutes.
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Washington had attempted to detain the Grace 1 on the grounds that it had links
to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which it has designated a
“The scheme involves multiple parties affiliated with the IRGC and furthered by the deceptive voyages of the Grace 1,” Liu said. “A network of front companies allegedly laundered millions of dollars in support of such shipments.”
“A seizure warrant and a forfeiture complaint are merely allegations. The burden to prove forfeitability in a civil forfeiture proceeding is upon the government,” the news release said.
There was no immediate word from Britain or Gibraltar over whether they would act on the warrant, as Iran said it was sending a new crew to pilot the tanker and its 2.1 million barrels of oil.
“For the release of the Grace 1 oil tanker, Iran has not made any commitments
not to send it to Syria,” adding that Iranian officials had previously stated
that the destination of the ship was not Syria, but “even if it were… it still
has nothing to do with anyone.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that the US attempt at "piracy" had failed, saying it showed Washington's "contempt for the law."
Reuters and AFP contributed to this report
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