On July 1, 2020, the US Department of Justice filed a verified complaint for forfeiture in rem in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking forfeiture of over 1 million barrels of Iranian gasoil aboard four ships currently en route to Venezuela. The complaint alleges that the petroleum cargo of the Pandi, the Luna, the Bering and the Bella is subject to seizure and forfeiture pursuant to 18 USC 981(a)(1)(G)(1) because it constitutes foreign assets of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which was designated by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control in October 2017, and as a foreign terrorist organization in April 2019 by both the US President and Secretary of State. According to the US, the four petroleum tankers were contracted by Mobin International Ltd., an Iranian petroleum company, to transport Iranian gasoline to Venezuela via the offices of several agents connected with the IRGC or an associated – and also designated – entity, the IRGC-QF.
A US District Court judge has issued a warrant for the seizure of the gasoil cargo, based on a showing by the government of probable cause that the cargo is forfeitable. The burden to prove forfeitability rests on the US.