US treasury sanctions on two captains for smuggling Iranian oil
2 mins read

US treasury sanctions on two captains for smuggling Iranian oil

In a rare move targeting seafarers, the U.S. Treasury Department has added two captains to its list of people who have been blacklisted for helping transport oil linked to Iran. This is a rare case of sanctions targeting licensed officers rather than shipowners or ship charterers.

The first of the two officers, Captain Vivek Ashok Pandey, allegedly served as captain of the sanctioned tanker Olympics (former name Mrs. Zofia). According to the State Treasury, Olympics operates on behalf of the Sa’id al-Jamal network, a secret Houthi-led shipping company that smuggles oil to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The agency said the tanker was operating in the East China Sea and using forged documents in which it falsely described its cargo as “Malaysian,” a common cover for Iranian oil shipments headed to China.

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also blacklisted tanker captain Sandeep Singh Choudhary La Perla (also known as Elite). According to the agency, the vessel has just delivered sanctioned cargo and is currently off the coast of China. The Treasury believes that La Perla is owned by the sanctioned Saone Shipping Corporation; Saone allegedly supports the oil smuggling interests of an Iranian government front company, Sepehr Energy Jahan Nama Pars Company (SEJ).

In the same statement, Treasury also imposed sanctions on a number of oil trading and transportation entities connected to the Sa’id al-Jamal network. The newly blacklisted people and companies include:

  • Sa’id al-Jamal’s nephew, Abdallah, allegedly laundered money for the network
  • Shark International Shipping and its managing director, John Britto Aruldhas, for allegedly providing the network with forged oil shipping documents on behalf of the Houthis
  • Rayyan Shipping Private Ltd., manager and technical operator of the Olympic Games

The Treasury also imposed sanctions on Hong Kong-based tanker Lainey Shipping Ltd JanetLouis Marine Shipholding based in Panama and the tanker Louis Marine Bella 1. The companies and their vessels allegedly transported sanctioned Iranian cargo for Concepto Screen SAL Off-Shore, a front company for the Iran-backed Hezbollah militia.