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US sanctions Russia-backed Iranian oil smuggling, money laundering network

US sanctions Russia-backed Iranian oil smuggling, money laundering network

Network led by officials of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, backed by senior levels of Russian government, says US Treasury

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The US has imposed sanctions on an international oil smuggling and money laundering network that it said was led by officials of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force and supported by Russia.

The network has “facilitated the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Iranian oil” for the Quds Force and the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah, the US Treasury said in a statement on Wednesday.

Behnam Shahriyari, a US-designated Quds Force official, and former official Rostam Ghasemi lead the network, which is “backed by senior levels of the Russian Federation government and state-run economic organs,” the statement said.

While Washington remains engaged in efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal, it “will not hesitate to target those who provide a critical lifeline of financial support and access to the international financial system” for the Quds Force and Hezbollah, said Brian Nelson, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

“In particular, the US will continue to strictly enforce sanctions on Iran’s illicit oil trade. Anyone purchasing oil from Iran faces the prospect of US sanctions,” he added.

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