The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Friday that it has charged two Iranian nationals for allegedly procuring a petroleum tanker in what the department called the largest seizure of funds related to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force.

Amir Dianat, 55, and Kamran Lajmiri, 42, were charged with allegedly violating U.S. export laws and sanctions against Iran in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The two have been accused of acquiring the oil tanker, the Nautic, in September 2019, a vessel that the United States said was for sale to Iran as part of a scheme worth more than $12.3 million involving the National Iranian Oil Company, the National Iranian Tanker Company and the IRGC Quds Force—entities that have been sanctioned by the United States. The United States designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization in 2019.

The United States announced sanctions against Dianat, a longtime associate of senior officials of the Quds Force, and his company, Taif Mining Services LLC, on Friday.

“These defendants purchased a crude oil tanker valued at over $10 million by illegally using the U.S. financial system, defiantly violating U.S. sanctions,” said U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers. “This is yet another example of Iran brazenly using front companies and false documentation in an attempt to hide the illegal transactions that the Iranian regime desperately needs to fund its malign activities.” 

FBI Minneapolis Special Agent in Charge Rainer Drolshagen said that the charges demonstrate “that those who use the U.S. financial system to benefit the Iranian oil industry will be investigated by the FBI and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Iran’s petrochemical and petroleum sectors are primary sources of funding for the Iranian regime, and the FBI will continue to aggressively pursue those who illegally use the U.S. financial system for their benefit.”

If convicted, Dianat and Lajmiri could face a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.

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