Two Men Found Guilty of Conspiracy to Sell Sanctioned Iranian Petroleum

November 17, 2023

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Zhenyu “Bill” Wang, 42, of Dallas, and Daniel Ray Lane, 42, of McKinney, Texas, were convicted at trial on Nov. 15 on charges of attempting to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), conspiracy to violate IEEPA, and conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with their attempt to transact in sanctioned Iranian petroleum and launder the proceeds.

According to evidence presented at trial, in 2019 and early 2020, the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to purchase petroleum from Iran, in violation of economic sanctions imposed by the United States under IEEPA. They then planned to mask the origins of the petroleum and sell it to a refinery in China. The defendants also attempted to conceal their illegal transactions by obtaining foreign passports, engaging in sham contractual agreements, and conspiring to launder the proceeds of the sale through shell entities and offshore financial accounts. For example, Lane offered to use the mineral rights that his company sold to launder proceeds for the Iranian sellers. In addition, Wang arranged for bribe payments to be paid the Chinese officials and bankers.

“These defendants schemed to buy Iranian oil, hide its origins, and sell it to a refinery in China in disregard of U.S. sanctions against Iran,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “The Justice Department will not tolerate those who would violate U.S. sanctions and imperil our national security for personal profit.”

“The defendants in this case flouted the national security interests of the United States by directly violating economic sanctions,” said U.S. Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. “Conspiring to violate sanctions and commit money laundering in the process is a serious offense and will not be tolerated.”

“For financial gain, these co-conspirators sought to evade sanctions put in place to protect the United States’ national security,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Richard Langham of the FBI Philadelphia Field Office. “A criminally bad idea, as this verdict clearly shows. The FBI will bring all our investigative resources to the table to halt such harmful acts.”

Wang and Lane, as well as three co-conspirators, were originally charged by complaint in February 2020, and the defendants and two co-conspirators were indicted on the above charges in August 2020. Wang and Lane face each a maximum penalty of 45 years in prison: five years for conspiracy to violate IEEPA and 20 years for each attempting to violate the IEEPA and conspiracy to commit money laundering counts. The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 29, 2024.

The FBI investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick Murray and Mary Crawley for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania are prosecuting the case, with valuable assistance provided by Trial Attorney Beau Barnes of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.