Iranian Shipping Line Evades U.S. Sanctions, Dupes Banks

June 1, 2011

Publication Type: 

  • International Enforcement Actions


Wisconsin Project Staff

The Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and 15 affiliates were indicted in New York state court for illegally funneling more than $60 million through the American banking system since 2008. IRISL and its co-defendants were allegedly able to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran by falsifying records and transacting through shell companies established in countries such as Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. Prosecutors said IRISL needed access to U.S. banks to compete in the shipping sector, which primarily does business in U.S. currency. Banks deceived by the scheme included JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America-though the banks are not accused of any wrongdoing. The United States believes IRISL is integral to Iran's efforts to obtain banned technology for its nuclear and missile programs. Though IRISL was sanctioned by the United States in 2008, this is the first time it has faced criminal charges in U.S. courts. The New York District Attorney acknowledged the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control for its role in uncovering the scheme.


[1] "DA Vance Announces Indictment of Iranian Shipping Line for the Illegal Use of Banks in Manhattan," Press Release, New York County District Attorney's Office, June 20, 2011.

[2] Indictment, New York v. Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York, June 20, 2011.

[3] Karen Freifeld & Phil Milford, "Iran Shipping Firm Faces Charges in Money-Making Scheme," Bloomberg, June 20, 2011.

[4] Jo Becker, "Iranian Company Charged With Tricking U.S. Banks," The New York Times, June 20, 2011.