US sells over a million barrels of seized Iranian fuel headed for Venezuela

The United States has sold more than a million barrels of Iranian fuel seized under its sanctions program last year, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing the US Department of Justice.

The seizures were part of Washington’s economic sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program, and the US’ designation of a number of Iranian groups as terrorists. The US government under President Donald Trump used civil forfeiture procedures to seize some 1.2 million barrels of gasoline it said were being sent from Iran to Venezuela aboard four tankers.

According to Department of Justice spokesman Marc Raimondi, the sale of the cargoes had been completed, with the government “still working out the final expenses.” He told Reuters, “The petroleum has been seized, and an interlocutory sale has preserved the cash value of the petroleum, which is now held by the US Marshals Service.” 

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Raimondi said the department still needs the US District Court in Washington, DC to enter an order of forfeiture “and then the funds will be transferred to the US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund.”

The sale of the seized fuel comes as another ship with confiscated Iranian crude oil is heading to a US port. Last week, Washington filed a lawsuit to seize another cargo – this time of crude oil it says came from Iran rather than Iraq, contravening US terrorism regulations. Refinitiv ship-tracking data showed on Wednesday that it is scheduled to arrive in the US Gulf port of Galveston on February 15.

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