The United States yesterday imposed sanctions on a Greek businessman who allegedly helped Iran evade international oil embargo.
Through several of his front companies, Dimitris Cambis used Iranian funds to purchase oil tankers and disguised the Iranian origin of oil transported on these vessels, the Department of Treasury said announcing the sanctions.
“Today we are lifting the veil on an intricate Iranian scheme that was designed to evade international oil sanctions,” said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S Cohen.
According to information available to the US government, Cambis, president of Impire Shipping, helped the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) obtain eight tankers in late 2012.
While these vessels were purchased and are controlled by Cambis and Impire Shipping, they are operated on behalf of NITC, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.
US law prohibits knowingly owning or controlling a vessel that operates in a manner that conceals the Iranian origin of crude oil by obscuring or concealing the ownership, operation, or control of the vessel by NITC.
The Treasury said Cambis established his shipping company, as well as several front companies, to purchase oil tankers while disguising the fact that the tankers were being purchased on behalf of the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC).
These front companies were used to obscure the fact that these vessels, which are capable of carrying roughly 200 million dollars’ worth of oil per shipment, are the property of the Iranian government.
Another front company, Libra Shipping, operates the vessels Cambis and Impire purchased on behalf of NITC with the aim of loading them with Iranian oil supplied by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), the Treasury alleged.
“These operations are conducted through a series of ship-to-ship transfers in an attempt to mask the fact that the true origin of the oil is from Iran and to introduce it into the global market as if it were non-Iranian oil,” it said.
“In December 2012, for example, NITC and Impire completed a ship-to-ship transfer of Iranian oil off Khor Fakkah, UAE. These operations are a clear example of NITC’s ongoing business practices designed to deceive the international community and evade sanctions. To date, Treasury has identified 58 vessels as blocked property in which NITC has an interest,” the Treasury alleged.
Treasury also identified the eight tankers purchased by Cambis on behalf of NITC, the eight front companies that nominally own them, as well as a network of Iranian government front companies that provided some of the funds that Impire Shipping Company used to purchase vessels for NITC.
This network of Iranian government front companies includes Sima General Trading, Polinex General Trading, Asia Energy General Trading and Synergy General Trading.
Sima General Trading Company and Asia Energy General Trading have each made payments of more than $100 million to Impire while Polinex General Trading Company has also supplied money to Impire, the Treasury alleged.