US announces warrant for Iranian oil tanker Grace 1

WASHINGTON (dpa)- The United States unsealed a warrant for the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1, a day after Gibraltar authorities released the ship.
Grace 1 was captured on July 4 off the coast of Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on the southern tip of Spain with London alleging the vessel was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.

The seizure escalated tensions between London and Tehran, with Iran later seizing the British-flagged Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz, a strategically important shipping route in the Gulf region.
The US warrant alleges "a scheme to unlawfully access the U.S. financial system to support illicit shipments to Syria from Iran by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization," the Justice Department said.
Affiliates of the IRGC allegedly used a "network of front companies" to launder millions of dollars from the oil shipments.
The tanker, all petroleum aboard and nearly 1 million dollars are subject to forfeiture based on violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) along with bank fraud, money laundering and other statutes.
On Thursday Gibraltar authorities announced they would release the ship after talks with Iran, despite a last-minute US request to keep the tanker impounded.
It is unclear if Grace 1 will be re-seized. According to the shipping tracker MarineTraffic the vessel is still docked in Gibraltar.
In an interview with CNN on Wednesday Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the appeal from Washington came too late to factor into Thursday's decision to release the Grace 1, but he did not dismiss the possibility that the tanker could be seized again before it leaves Gibraltar's waters.

Saturday, August 17th 2019

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