The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Taif Mining Services LLC and its owner over accusations that he helped support Iran's elite Quds Force, including in efforts to smuggle shipments from Iran to Yemen, the U.S. Treasury Department said.
The Treasury Department said in a statement that Iranian and Iraqi national Amir Dianat had supported Quds Force smuggling operations for years, including efforts aimed at the shipment of weapons including missiles.
In addition to the Treasury Department's blacklisting of Dianat, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia filed criminal charges against him and one of his business associates for violations of sanctions and money laundering laws.
The office also filed a related action alleging that $12 million is subject to forfeiture as funds involved in the crimes and as assets of a foreign terrorist organization, the Treasury Department said.
The forfeiture action marks the largest ever seizure of Quds Force-related funds, it said.
"The Iranian regime and its supporters continue to prioritize the funding of international terrorist organizations over the health and well-being of the Iranian people," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.
The complaint alleges that Dianat and Lajmiri in 2019 conspired to purchase a petroleum tanker in a scheme involving the National Iranian Oil Company, the National Iranian Tanker Company and the Quds Force, all blacklisted by the United States.
If convicted of the criminal charges, Dianat and Lajmiri would face a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.
"These defendants purchased a crude oil tanker valued at over $10 million by illegally using the U.S. financial system, defiantly violating U.S. sanctions," Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in the statement.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have spiked since Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal struck by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and began reimposing sanctions that had been eased under the accord.