The Justice Department recently announced the seizure of three websites used by three front companies: Mobin International, Sohar Fuel, and Oman Fuel, who arranged a multimillion dollar fuel shipment by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization, that was bound for Venezuela.
On July 2, 2020, the United States filed a complaint seeking to forfeit all petroleum-product cargo aboard four foreign-flagged oil tankers, including the M/T Bella with international maritime organization (IMO) number 9208124, the M/T Bering with IMO number 9149225, the M/T Pandi with IMO number 9105073, and the M/T Luna with IMO number 9208100. A seizure order for the cargo from all four vessels was issued by U.S. District Court Judge Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
On Aug. 14, 2020, the United States announced that it successfully executed the seizure order and confiscated the cargo from all four vessels, totaling approximately 1.116 million barrels of petroleum. With the assistance of foreign partners, this seized property is now in U.S. custody.
Funds successfully forfeited with a connection to a state sponsor of terrorism may in whole or in part be directed to the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund) after the conclusion of the case.
The forfeiture complaint alleged how Mohammad Madanipour used a web of front companies, including Mobin International to perpetrate this scheme. The websites for Mobin International and related front companies, Sohar Fuel, and Oman Fuel, now display the following splash page noting control by the U.S. government:
Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2232, interfering with lawful execution of the United States seizure order may subject a party to criminal penalties for interfering with the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court for District of Columbia over the petroleum cargo.
A warrant for arrest and civil forfeiture complaint are merely allegations. The burden to prove forfeitability in a civil forfeiture proceeding is upon the government.