US sanctions prominent Turkish businessman over Iran oil sales

The Treasury Department on Thursday announced sanctions against Turkish businessman Sitki Ayan for facilitating the sale of trafficked Iranian oil on behalf of the country’s military.

Ayan is a friend of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and allegedly heads a Turkish network financing the Quds forces, a special branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard,

Ayan was sanctioned along with affiliated companies and associates — including his son — for spearheading a sanctions evasion network that “facilitated the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil” in partnership with Iran’s military and the terrorist organization Hizballah, according to the department.

The illegal sale of oil through Ayan’s networks “provided important revenue sources” for Iran’s Quds forces (IRGC-QF), which was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2007 for its support of terrorist groups.

Ayan, associate Kasim Oztas and son Bahaddin Ayan were all sanctioned because they “provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF,” the the Treasure statement.

Thursday’s sanctions against Ayan and his partners follow action from the Treasury on May 25 against members of sanction evasion networks, including high-level Russian government officials.

“Today’s action complements Treasury’s May designations and demonstrates the United States’ ongoing commitment to deny the IRGC-QF its revenue streams and to target those who abuse the international financial system in support of the group,” Brian E. Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said of the sanctions decision.

The sanctions will prohibit the individuals and entities from conducting business in the United States or with “U.S. persons”, and requires all assets or interests in the U.S. to be reported to the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

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