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Press Release

Two Individuals Charged in Trafficking Illicit Iranian Oil Using U.S. Financial System to Fund Terrorist Group in Violation of U.S. Sanctions

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia

            WASHINGTON – Two foreign nationals are charged in a scheme to export Iranian petroleum to China and use the proceeds to benefit Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF), a designated terrorist organization. Shaoyun Wang, 54, of China, and Mahmood Rashid Amur Al Habsi, 39, of Oman, are charged in a 12-count indictment unsealed today, announced U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, FBI Special Agent in Charge Alvin M. Winston Sr. of the Minneapolis Field Office, and HSI Special Agent in Charge Derek W. Gordon of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. Also unsealed today was a warrant for a related seizure of approximately $8.5 million.

             Wang and Al Habsi are charged with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, conspiring to commit money laundering, and money laundering stemming from an alleged scheme to export Iranian petroleum to Chinese government-owned refineries. The indictment alleges that Wang and Al Habsi, together with their co-conspirators, illegally used the U.S. financial system to facilitate the sale of over a hundred million dollars’ worth of oil to benefit the IRGC-QF, Iran’s primary conduit for providing lethal support to terrorist organizations abroad.

            “The only way that Iran can illegally sell oil is if people and business organizations outside Iran help it to do so,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves.  “The indictment unsealed today demonstrates that the U.S. government will seek to hold accountable those who knowingly help Iran sell oil illegally —wherever in the world they are located.”

            “Shaoyun Wang and Mahmood Rashid Amur Al Habsi defrauded the U.S. financial system to facilitate hundreds of millions of dollars in oil sales in order to support terrorists,” said Special Agent in Charge Derek W. Gordon of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C.  “Their actions aided a foreign terrorist organization, which uses such proceeds to fund their malicious activities abroad, including actions against U.S. military personnel.  HSI Washington, D.C. will continue our efforts to dismantle such networks that support the heinous actions of Iran and their Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

            “Those who choose to conspire with terrorist organizations will face the full force of justice,” said Special Agent in Charge Alvin M. Winston Sr. of FBI Minneapolis. “The FBI remains committed to disrupting financial networks that fund and support terrorism. We will continue to collaborate with our partners to prevent the exploitation of legitimate industries for unlawful purposes, protecting global security and stability."                                                           

            According to the indictment, between December 2019 and July 2021, Wang, Al Habsi, and unnamed co-conspirators negotiated and completed sales of sanctioned oil from the Islamic Republic of Iran to the People’s Republic of China utilizing the services and funds of U.S. persons and financial institutions, without prior authorization or a license from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. They allegedly obtained the oil from Iran using surreptitious means, which included AIS spoofing and engaging in multiple transfers between tankers. The alleged scheme relied on the use of the U.S. financial system and was facilitated by Turkish, Omani, and U.S. persons and entities, all in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

            The indictment further alleges that Wang and Al Habsi used fraudulent documents to mask that the oil originated from Iran, used electronic communications to arrange the sales, utilized shell corporations to launder the proceeds through the U.S. financial system, and misled U.S. financial institutions about the source of the money generated by the transactions. In addition, the scheme allegedly used U.S. companies as a “trust” to hold the profits for the IRGC-QF.

            The indictment also alleges that Al Habsi, acting through one of his companies, procured a $16.5 million loan in June 2020 from U.S. financial companies to purchase an oil tanker, later named M/T Oman Pride. Beginning in July 2020, M/T Oman Pride transferred Iranian oil to third-party vessels for sale to Chinese government-owned refineries and companies in China.

            Wang allegedly used a U.S. front company, a U.S. facilitator, and U.S. financial institutions to facilitate the sale of Iranian oil to China. Wang, who served as a director of a Chinese oil refinery, was also the chair of a U.S. company in Las Vegas, Nevada, and general manager of the U.S. company’s Hong Kong-based parent company, which allegedly acted as a front for oil transactions. Wang allegedly engaged with senior IRGC officials to affect the purchases. The alleged scheme resulted in millions of dollars’ worth of transactions that were processed by U.S. banks and facilitated by U.S. persons.

            This case is being investigated by the HSI Washington D.C. and FBI Minneapolis field offices. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen Seifert, Maeghan Mikorski, Rajbir Datta, and Prava Palacharla, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, with valuable assistance provided by Trial Attorneys Beau Barnes and Chris Magnani of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the United States Department of Justice.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated February 2, 2024

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National Security
Press Release Number: 24-91