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U.S. Sells Seized Iranian Oil

The United States has sold crude oil seized from four Iranian tankers earlier this year for some $40 million the AFP reports, citing a U.S. government official.

"We estimate that in excess of $40 million will be recouped by the United States related to the sale of petroleum from those four vessels," Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia said. Sherwin added that "a great portion" of the money will be donated to a fund for the victims of "state-sponsored terrorism".

In the middle of August, the U.S. Administration said it had seized the fuel cargo of several vessels, alleging that the fuel came from Iran and was going to Venezuela. The confiscation followed a lawsuit filed by U.S. prosecutors to seize the cargo carried by the four vessels for violating U.S. sanctions against Venezuela.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced at the time "the successful disruption of a multimillion-dollar fuel shipment by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization, that was bound for Venezuela. These actions represent the government's largest-ever seizure of fuel shipments from Iran."  

In September, the seized cargo was still sitting off the Gulf Coast as companies claiming ownership of the oil asked a judge to release the cargo because the U.S. forfeiture "relies on a series of unfounded assumptions."

The companies—from the UAE and Oman—also said the cargo was intended for buyers in Peru and Colombia, not Venezuela.

However, Washington has claimed it had the right to seize the cargos and assume ownership because the money that Iran earned from oil exports went to fund the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist organization.

"The claimants will have an opportunity to litigate their claims in a US district court," the Department of Justice said, as quoted by Argus Media. "Once the claims are dismissed, to the greatest extent possible, the funds will go into the US Victims of Terrorism Fund." 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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