DENVER – A warrant unsealed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Aug. 16 to seize the oil tanker Grace 1, the petroleum aboard it, and $995,000, reveals the investigative work by special agents based in Colorado.
The tanker, cargo and cash are subject to forfeiture based on violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), bank fraud statute, and money laundering statute, as well as separately the terrorism forfeiture statute.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI investigated the case.
The investigation revealed an alleged plan to unlawfully access the U.S. financial system to support illicit shipments from Iran to Syria by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization.
The large-scale plan involved multiple parties affiliated with the IRGC and furthered by the deceptive voyages of the Grace 1.
A network of front companies allegedly laundered millions of dollars in support of such shipments.
A seizure warrant and civil forfeiture complaint are merely allegations. The burden to prove forfeitability in a civil forfeiture proceeding is upon the government.
In announcing the indictment, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, District of Columbia commended HSI’s and FBI’s investigated work and expressed his appreciation to the following agency heads: Assistant Attorney General John Demers, National Security Division; Special Agent in Charge Steven Cagen, HSI Denver; and, Special Agent in Charge Jill Sanborn, FBI Minneapolis.