Four US citizens indicted for conspiring to sell Iranian oil to China

The four stood to make as much as $28 million per month. They now face up to 45 years in prison.

Y Rabinovitz ,

Arrest (illustrative)
Arrest (illustrative)

Federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania have indicted four Americans who are accused of conspiring to purchase crude oil from Iran and sell it to China, having devised a number of schemes to circumvent US sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The four are Nicholas Hovan of New York, and Zhenyu Wang, Robert Thwaites, and Daniel Ray Lane of Texas. They are being charged with conspiracy, violating the International Emergency Powers Act, and money laundering.

“The defendants in this case allegedly conspired to sell Iranian petroleum to a Chinese refinery in order to enrich themselves at the expense of the US Iran sanctions regime,” said Assistant Attorney-General Demers. According to the indictment, the four arranged to purchase oil from Iran and sell it to China in two separate shipments, laundering their profits via offshore accounts. They also attempted to bribe a Chinese official and obtain falsified passports to be used to open Swiss bank accounts where they would hide their ill-gotten gains – which could have amounted to around $28 million per month.

“It doesn’t get much lower than attempting to get rich by flouting the United States’ national security interests,” said US Attorney McSwain. “This type of conspiracy deserves the full condemnation of my office.”

Their plans were hatched between March 2019 and February 2020, when they were arrested. They now face a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison, in addition to a $1.75 million fine.