Iranians Charged With Dodging Sanctions With Shell Companies

Ten Iranian nationals were charged in the U.S. with using shell companies to disguise transactions, including the purchase of two $25 million oil tankers, in an effort to dodge American sanctions on the mideast nation.

The charges, originally filed in October, were unsealed Friday in Los Angeles.

“Through the use of front companies, money service businesses and exchanges throughout the world, the defendants worked to disguise hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of transactions on behalf of a state sponsor of terrorism,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a statement.

The Iranians allegedly created more than 70 front companies -- often using the name “Persepolis” or “Rosco” -- in the U.S., Iran, Canada, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong. They also lied to financial institutions to disguise more than $300 million worth of transactions on Iran’s behalf, using money wired in U.S. dollars and sent through U.S.-based banks, prosecutors said.

The U.S. asked the court to order the Iranians to forfeit more than $157 million allegedly involved in the sanctions violations.

The Iranians are believed to be outside the U.S., prosecutors said. They could face sentences of as long as 20 years in federal prison if convicted in the U.S.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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