WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration on Thursday imposed sanctions on prominent Turkish businessman Sitki Ayan and his corporate network, acting on behalf of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as an oil sales and money laundering facilitator. accused of doing so.
Ayang’s firm contracted for the international sale of Iranian oil, arranged shipments, helped launder the proceeds, and concealed the origin of Iranian oil on behalf of Iran’s Quds Force, a branch of the IRGC, it said. The Treasury Department said in a statement first reported by Reuters.
“Ayang has signed business agreements to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Iranian oil to buyers in China, the United Arab Emirates and Europe,” the statement said, after which he poured the proceeds into Quds Force. He added that
Ayan’s son Bahaddin Ayan, colleague Qasim Oztas and two other Turkish citizens involved in his business network, along with 26 companies including his ASB Group companies, a Gibraltar-based holding company and shipping Specified.
Ayan, his son Bahaddin and Oztus were not immediately available for comment. Ayan’s ASB group and the Turkish news agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Treasury Department action freezes US assets of designated persons and generally prohibits US persons from dealing with them. Persons who engage in certain transactions with designated persons are also at risk of sanctions.
The US action comes at a time when relations between the US and Turkey are strained over a number of issues, including disagreements over Syria policy and Turkey’s purchase of Russian air defense systems.
Most recently, Washington warned Turkey to refrain from Turkish military incursions into northern Syria. Turkey has said it is preparing a possible ground attack against Syria’s Kurdish YPG militia, which it considers terrorist but makes up the bulk of the US-backed Syrian population, before democratic Army (Self Defense Force).
Washington is seeking ways to increase pressure as efforts to maintain broad sanctions against Iran and revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran stall.
US President Joe Biden was trying to negotiate Iran’s return to the nuclear deal after former President Donald Trump pulled out of it in 2018.
The 2015 agreement limited Iran’s uranium enrichment activities and made it more difficult for Tehran to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for lifting international sanctions. Iran denies it wants to acquire nuclear weapons.
Reported by Humeyra Pamuk and Daphne Psaledakis. Additional reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun. Edited by Don Durfee and Howard Goller
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