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In 2008, Treasury exposed the alarming involvement of Iran’s national maritime carrier in Iran’s illicit procurement activities. The Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) had placed its international network of ships and hubs into the service of the Iranian military, particularly the arm of its military overseeing ballistic missile development. We imposed sanctions on IRISL, its corporate network, and its fleet, prohibiting U.S. persons from dealing with the company. Since then, the international community has followed suit, imposing a widening array of powerful sanctions against this dangerous carrier.
IRISL has not changed its conduct; instead it has tried to change its identity. IRISL’s ships have been renamed, reflagged, repainted, and renamed again. It has repeatedly shifted the nominal owners of ships and modified shipping documents to conceal its activities.
Wherever IRISL has gone, we have tracked and exposed them. Altogether, we have targeted more than 150 IRISL-related vessels, companies, entities and individuals over the last three years.
And today, we are identifying six new IRISL front companies in Panama that took ownership of IRISL vessels after Treasury exposed and sanctioned their previous owners on the Isle of Man last November. The six Panamanian companies are: Galliot Maritime, Mount Everest Maritime, Melodious Maritime, Indus Maritime, Rishi Maritime, and Kaveri Maritime. Click here to see a chart that explains the transfer.
IRISL will undoubtedly continue trying to find other jurisdictions willing to host its companies and flag its ships. But IRISL’s days may be numbered. Governments and shipping companies are learning that IRISL’s deception, fraud and dangerous activities on behalf of the Government of Iran pose a risk to all of those exposed to IRISL and are proving to be very costly in the long term.
Simply put, the legal, financial and reputational risks of dealing with IRISL outweigh any potential benefits.
In the meantime, Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control will continue to work aggressively to increase the pressure on IRISL’s operations and network, as we have with other fronts for Iran’s illicit activities.
Adam J. Szubin is the Director of OFAC.