The United States has sanctioned an Iranian pharmaceutical firm that officials claim is acting as a “front company” in a scheme to sell Iranian oil to Bashar Al Assad’s Syrian government, Senior White House officials announced Tuesday in a conference call with reporters.
Tadbir Kish Medical and Pharmaceutical Company has been designated for sanctions because the company allegedly “materially assisted” a complex financial scheme to covertly sell oil to the Syrian government.
According to the Treasury Department, Tadbir Kish served as one part of a payment network that also involved the state-owned Russian company Promsyrioimport to facilitate payments between Tehran and Damascus.
U.S. sanctions prohibit providing material support to the government of Syria, including shipments of oil to government-controlled ports.
“Central Bank of Iran officials continue to exploit the international financial system, and in this case even used a company whose name suggests a trade in humanitarian goods as a tool to facilitate financial transfers supporting this oil scheme,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
.@khamenei_ir should decide if spending the Iranian people’s money on the Iranian people is more important than inventing schemes to fund Assad, Hizballah, Hamas, and other terrorists.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 20, 2018
The new sanctions also target a Syrian national, Mohamed Alchwicki and his Russia-based company, Global Vision Group. He is accused of playing a central role both in the transfer of oil to Syria and the funneling of money to militant groups.
Treasury said in a statement that the Assad regime, in its turn, has been facilitating “the movement of hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force for onward transfer to Hamas and Hezbollah.”
The U.S. said his company had illegally received transfers of funds from the Iranian Central Bank via a set of complex transactions.
Intermediary firms involved in the plot to obscure the real destinations of the oil and the money included a subsidiary of the Russian Ministry of Energy, according to the statement.
After withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement in May, the U.S. also re-imposed sanctions on the Iranian oil industry and financial institutions on November 5.
Pharmaceutical companies and other entities that purchase medical and humanitarian supplies are officially exempt from these sanctions.
In practice, however, U.S. sanctions can make it very difficult for Iran to import Western medical supplies and potentially life-saving drugs for its people.
“They claim that the imports of medicines are exempted from sanctions but in practice, because of banking restrictions, we don’t have access to medicine,” Ahmad Ghavideh of Iran’s hemophilia society has told the Guardian.
“Any delay in supply of medicine … will have catastrophic consequences. My worry is not for today, but in six months’ time when our supply runs out.”
with reporting from AFP