Gibraltar rejected on Sunday a U.S. effort to seize an Iranian supertanker held in the British territory’s port, despite allegations from the United States that the ship helped the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps transport oil from Iran to Syria.
In an unusual move, the Justice Department unsealed a seizure warrant and forfeiture complaint on Friday for the Grace 1 supertanker, which the U.S. says is controlled by the Revolutionary Guard, and the Justice Department sent a mutual legal assistance request to British-controlled Gibraltar.
The Justice Department alleged that the oil tanker was part of a “scheme” to “unlawfully access the U.S. financial system to support illicit shipments to Syria from Iran” by the Revolutionary Guard and that this plot was aided by multiple parties as well as a “network of front companies” that laundered millions of dollars connected to the “deceptive voyages” of the ship. Therefore, the U.S. asked for the tanker, all of its 2.1 million barrels of crude oil, and $999,950 in allegedly illicit bank funds be turned over.
A court in Gibraltar said no earlier today.
The supertanker, which originally deceptively flew a Panamanian flag before being captured, has been sitting in a Gibraltar port since July 4, when the British navy seized it on suspicion that it was violating sanctions put in place by the European Union, which do not allow the transport of oil to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. But the British gave the green light for the ship to be released last week after Iran said the oil would not be brought to Syria. The ship has been renamed the Adrian Darya 1 and is now flying an Iranian flag.
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