U.S. and UK Sanction Iranians, Houthis and "Dark Fleet" Tankers

The U.S. and UK listed individuals and tankers involved in the Iranian oil trade and for supporting the Houthi (file photo)

Published Feb 27, 2024 2:57 PM by The Maritime Executive


In a coordinated series of efforts, the United States and the United Kingdom each launched new sanctions against Iran and its commodities trade as well as for efforts supporting the Houthi militants in Yemen. The U.S. and UK jointly targeted the Houthi and their Iranian supporters while the U.S. also took action against two companies registered in Hong Kong and the Marshall Islands that own and operate a tanker used in the Iranian oil trade.

“Today’s action underscores our resolve to target efforts by the IRGC-QF (Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force) and the Houthis to evade U.S. sanctions and fund further attacks in the region,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson. “As the Houthis persistently threaten the security of peaceful international commerce, the United States and the United Kingdom will continue to disrupt the funding streams that enable these destabilizing activities.”

The joint U.S.-UK action sanctioned two individuals and three organizations that were reported to be providing financial or military support to the Houthis. Among the individuals being listed is Mohammad Reza Fallahzadeh, who since April 2021 has been reported to be the Deputy Commander of the IRGC Quds Force and responsible for multiple attacks as well as support for the Houthi. The UK also joined the U.S. which had previously listed Sa’id al-Jamal, an Iran-based financier who heads a network of front companies and vessels that generate revenue for the Houthis. Both countries also listed three units of Iran’s Quds Force.

The UK also listed Ali Hussein Badr Al Din Al-Houthi, the Houthi’s Undersecretary of the Interior and Commander of the security/police forces. The U.S. also designated Ibrahim al-Nashiri, a Houthi group member who supports the militant efforts.

As with the past efforts, the U.S. also singled out tankers involved in the Iranian oil trade. Today’s action listed the Artura, a crude oil tanker registered in Panama. Built in 1998, the vessel is 150,000 dwt and is reported to have been working for the network operated by Sa’id al-Jamal including operating ship-to-ship transfers and using multiple names including Sanan II. The U.S. traced the ship to a transfer to the Mehle (150,000 dwt) another tanker the U.S. sanctioned in January 2024. Cap Tees Shipping, the owner of the tanker, was also listed.

In a separate action, the U.S. also took action against companies in Hong Kong and the Marshall Islands that own and operate another tanker, the Panama-flagged Kohana (318,600 dwt). Built in 2003, the U.S. reports the tanker has been used to ship over $100 million in Iranian commodities to businesses in China.

The U.S. linked this tanker to operations orchestrated by Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL). The U.S. reports the vessel loaded a cargo for Iranian oil in late January 2024 and is on its way to China, where it intends to offload its cargo.

The UK’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron commented saying, “As I have made clear to the Iranian Foreign Minister, the regime bears responsibility for these attacks due to the extensive military support it has provided to the Houthis. All those who seek to undermine regional stability should know that the UK, alongside our allies, will not hesitate to act.”

To date, the UK reports it has more than 400 sanctions designations in place on Iranian individuals and entities, including those that seek to use malign influence regionally and internationally.