Thursday, June 13, 2024

2 Texas Men Sentenced in Scheme to Sell Iranian Oil to China

 2 Texas Men Sentenced in Scheme to Sell Iranian Oil to China 

Two Texas men were sentenced on June 11 to 45 months in prison over a scheme to sell U.S.-sanctioned Iranian petroleum to China, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Wang Zhenyu, 43, a Chinese citizen and permanent U.S. resident, and Daniel Ray Lane, 42, a U.S. citizen from McKinney, Texas, conspired with three others to evade U.S. economic sanctions against Iran from July 2019 to February 2020, the DOJ said in a June 11 statement.

They attempted to buy sanctioned oil from Iran, masked the oil’s origins, and sold it to a refinery in China, according to the DOJ.

“Wang, Lane, and their co-conspirators’ scheme to make millions also would have enriched Iran, one of our government’s foreign adversaries, in direct contravention of measures meant to protect American interests and national security,” U.S. Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said in a June 11 statement.

Mr. Wang reached out to several parties in China and “brokered a contract of sale” with the refinery, according to the DOJ. He also arranged bribery payments to Chinese officials to facilitate the illegal transaction.

Mr. Lane agreed to help launder the proceeds from the oil sale and “offered to use the mineral rights that he sold through his business, Stack Royalties, to conceal the Iranians’ profits, and even purchased a cash machine to count the millions of dollars of laundered proceeds quickly,” the DOJ stated.

Mr. Lane was president of Stack Royalties, a private firm based in Dallas.

The five conspirators also sought to obtain Antiguan passports to open Swiss bank accounts to launder their proceeds.

They planned to start with a 500,000-barrel shipment of Iranian oil “but intended to increase the shipments to one or two million barrels a month for a year or more,” the DOJ stated.

According to the DOJ, Mr. Wang believed that they could make $1.5 million in profit for every 500,000-barrel shipment.

Mr. Wang and Mr. Lane were convicted for attempting to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), conspiracy to violate IEEPA, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The three co-conspirators were sentenced in January. Nicholas Hovan received a sentence of 12 months plus a day, and Nicholas Fuchs and Robert Thwaites each received 10-month prison sentences.

at the White House in May 2018 that “America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail.”
In April, President Joe Biden signed the Stop Harboring Iranian Petroleum Act and Iran-China Energy Sanctions Act of 2023 into law as part of a foreign aid package.
Iran’s oil exports reportedly grew by about 50 percent in 2023 to a five-year high of roughly 1.29 million barrels per day, with most of the shipments going to China.
In this year’s first quarter, Iran exported 141.7 million barrels of oil, a 28 percent increase over the same period in 2023, according to the Washington-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Late last month, Tehran announced that it had approved a plan to increase its oil output to four million barrels per day. Iran is a major crude producer within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
China and Iran signed a 25-year cooperation agreement in 2021 to strengthen their economic and political alliance. The two nations agreed to deepen their strategic cooperation in August 2023, following a meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, on the sidelines of the 15th BRICS summit in Johannesburg.

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