May 1, 2020

US brings in rem action, charges two Iranians with money laundering and sanctions violations

The US Department of Justice has announced the filing of a criminal complaint charging two Iranian nationals, Amir Abdolaziz Dianat and Kamran Ali Lajmiry, with conspiracy to provide US financial services to Iranian entities and related companies, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR).

According to the complaint, Dianat and Lajmiri used front companies to purchase a petroleum tanker, the Nautic, for over $10 million, with the intention of conveying the vessel to Iran.  As alleged, once the final payment was wired to the seller, the name of the vessel was changed, and the vessel was sailed to Kharg Island, Iran, to be loaded with Iranian crude oil.

In conjunction with the criminal action, a civil forfeiture complaint was filed against $12,338,941.91, representing the funds used in the money laundering scheme, which involved the National Iranian Oil Company, the National Iranian Tanker Company, and the IRGC-Qods Force, all of them Specially Designated Nationals.  In the in rem action, the US asserts that the funds are subject to seizure and forfeiture pursuant to 18 USC § 981(a)(1)(C) and (a)(1)(G)(1), as property derived from the proceeds of violations of IEEPA or assets of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and pursuant to 18 USC § 1956 as property traceable to money laundering activity.

In a parallel action, Dianat and the major front company involved in the scheme, Taif Mining Services LLC, were designated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of the Treasury. 

DOJ press release | In rem complaint | Affidavit