• The Financial District


The Trump administration has seized the cargo of four tankers transporting 1.1 million barrels of Iranian fuel to Venezuela, US officials said Thursday (Friday, August 14, 2020 in Manila), as it steps up its campaign of maximum pressure against the two heavily sanctioned allies. 

Last month, federal prosecutors in Washington filed a civil forfeiture complaint alleging that the sale was arranged by a businessman, Mahmoud Madanipour, with ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, a US-designated foreign terrorist organization. At the time, sanctions experts thought it would be impossible to enforce the US court order in international waters, Joshua Goodman reported for the Associated Press (AP.) 

A senior US official told AP that no military force was used in the seizures and that the ships weren’t physically confiscated. Rather, US officials threatened ship owners, insurers and captains with sanction to force them to hand over their cargo, which now becomes US property, the official said. 

Venezuela earlier condemned the US for piracy as it threatened to snatch oil destined for Caracas and padlocked Venezuelan refineries and gasoline stations in the US and pressured a British court into taking control of Venezuelan gold kept in bank vaults in London ostensibly to compensate private parties suing Venezuelan politicians. The gold belongs to the Venezuelan people and not to any individual, lawyers representing Venezuela argued.

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