U.S. indicts firms for helping Iran evade sanctions

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 20, 2011 1:38 PM
U.S. indicts firms for helping Iran evade sanctions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors took aim at Iran's main state shipping line on Monday, indicting several firms and individuals for helping the blacklisted firm's weapons proliferation activities by falsifying bank records.

The indictments from the Manhattan District Attorney are the United States' latest attempts to paralyze the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), which was slapped with financial sanctions by the U.S. Treasury in 2008 for its role in aiding Iran's ballistic missile development program.

Eleven corporations and five Iranian nationals were accused of conspiring to repeatedly falsify records of New York banks, which allowed the state-owned Iran Shipping Lines to illegally use the services of the U.S. financial institutions, according to court documents.

The indictment accused the defendants of illegally moving more than $60 million through correspondent bank accounts at Man hattan-domiciled banks from September 2008 to January 2011.

Also on Monday, the Treasury added another 10 shipping firms and three individuals to its sanctions list for their alleged ties to IRISL. The targeted firms were Pacific Shipping, Great Ocean Shipping Services, Azores Shipping, Atlantic Intermodal, Crystal Shipping, Pearl Shipping, Sinose Maritime, Santex Lines and Fairway Shipping.

The persons facing sanctions were top managers and executives for IRISL and what the Treasury said were firms acting on its behalf.

"The persistent attempts by IRISL to deceive the world, including through the front companies identified today, attest to the weakness of IRISL as it tries to maintain a semblance of legitimacy while supporting Iran's nuclear proliferation activities," the Treasury's top sanctions official, Adam Szubin, said in a statement.

(Reporting by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, Rachelle Younglai: Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)