June 13, 2024

Two members of a sanctions evasion and money laundering scheme sentenced to 45 months in prison

On June 11, 2024, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Texas residents Zhenyu “Bill” Wang and Daniel Ray Lane were each sentenced to 45 months in prison for their roles in a sanctions evasion and laundering scheme.  The DOJ reported that, in November 2023, both men were convicted by a federal jury in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for attempting to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”), conspiracy to violate the IEEPA and conspiracy to commit laundering for their efforts to buy and sell sanctioned petroleum from Iran and launder the proceeds.

According to court documents, from July 2019 to February 2020, Wang and Lane conspired with co-defendants Nicholas Hovan, Nicholas Fuchs and Robert Thwaites to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran by purchasing Iranian oil and selling it to buyers in the People’s Republic of China.  Federal prosecutors allege that the scheme participants communicated among themselves and with third parties to, among other things, conceal the origin of the oil and establish offshore bank accounts in order to receive and distribute the funds related to the illegal sale of the sanctioned Iranian oil.  Wang, a Chinese citizen, allegedly played a critical role communicating with parties in China, securing a written offer and broking a contract of sale with a buyer in China.  Wang also allegedly made arrangements to bribe Chinese officials in furtherance of the scheme.  Lane allegedly helped to laundering the proceeds of the illegal transactions with Iranians and offered to use his business, Stack Royalties, to conceal the Iranians’ profits.

According to the DOJ, Hovan, Fuchs and Thwaites acted as intermediaries to find buyers for the sanctioned oil.  In January 2024, Hovan was sentenced to approximately 12 months in prison for his role in the scheme, while Fuchs and Thwaites were each sentenced to 10 months in prison.

DOJ Press Release | Complaint