With the eight-year civil war in Syria showing signs of winding down, the U.S. remains determined to continue economic pressure on the Assad regime through sanctions.
However, attempts at end-running the U.S. sanctions continue through elaborate oil transportation schemes with Iran. To tamp down this activity, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) this week released an updated advisory on how the maritime industry should stay clear of becoming involved in transporting illicit Iranian-origin oil shipments to Syrian-controlled ports.
The agency also added dozens of vessels to its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List for their alleged involvement in handling illicit oil shipments to Syria, including 16 shipping to Syrian ports and more than 30 engaging in ship-to-ship oil transfers.
“The United States has made it clear to the maritime shipping community that we will not tolerate the use of petroleum as a mechanism to finance rogue regimes in Iran and Syria,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, in a statement.
Mandelker said the shipping industry “must aggressively counter the ongoing deceptive shipping practices deployed by Iran and Syria and other questionable jurisdictions. Any violations of prohibitions or weaknesses in compliance that result in sanctionable conduct exposes the shipping community to significant risks and can trigger severe consequences.”
OFAC warned the civil penalties for violating the Syrian sanctions could be as much as $250,000 per violation.