US sanctions snare more air, ocean transport operators linked to Iran

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) continues to add air and marine cargo services providers to its list of sanctioned individuals and entities that conduct business with Iran.

On Dec. 11, OFAC placed three foreign air cargo general sales agents and a vessel operator on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List for their alleged dealings with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards. U.S. business transactions are prohibited with individuals or entities identified on the list.

“The Iranian regime uses its aviation and shipping industries to supply its regional terrorist and militant groups with weapons, directly contributing to the devastating humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement.

OFAC identified aviation general sales agents — Gatewick LLC and Jahan Destination Travel and Tourism LLC of Dubai and Gomei Air Services Co. Ltd. of Hong Kong — as providers of passenger and cargo handling services to Iran’s Mahan Air. The Iranian airline has been on the SDN List since October 2011 for supporting Iranian military operations in the region.

“Since the onset of the Syrian civil war, Mahan Air has routinely flown fighters and materiel to Syria to prop up the Assad regime, which has contributed to mass atrocities and displacement of civilians,” the agency said.

OFAC also added Iranian businessman Abdolhossein Khedri and his shipping companies, Khedri Jahan Darya Co. and Maritime Silk Road LLC, as well as vessels owned by Khedri Jahan Darya Co., to the SDN List for their support of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s smuggling operations. The identified vessels include the Genava 11 and Genava 12.

The Trump administration has escalated sanctions against Iran since the United States’ withdrawal from the multilateral Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal, in May 2018.

Numerous Iranian companies and individuals, including nearly 200 ships, have been added to the SDN List for violating U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran, as well as for U.S. national security and foreign policy concerns.

“Aviation and shipping industries should be vigilant and not allow their industries to be exploited by terrorists,” Mnuchin warned.