Arrival of Seized Iranian Fuel in New Jersey Spurs Legal Battle
(Bloomberg) - A shipment of Iranian gasoline seized by the US has arrived in New Jersey, escalating a legal battle over who is its rightful owner.
The Maersk Messina is anchored in Carteret, New Jersey, according to Bloomberg. It is the second of two Iranian gasoline loads brought to the US after being seized earlier this year for violating US sanctions en route to Venezuela. Last month, Maersk Progress dumped 557,712 barrels of Iranian gasoline in New York, according to US Customs.
Four tankers of Iranian gasoline were intercepted this summer in an unprecedented move by the Trump administration, which sanctioned Venezuela's oil industry to oust President Nicolas Maduro. The shipowners delivered the cargoes and transferred them to other tankers that took them to the USA. The capture of 1.16 million barrels of oil was hailed by the Justice Department as the "largest seizure of fuel shipments from Iran".
The Trump administration must prove the case of forfeiture before the oil can be sold. The U.S. complaint that the charges are assets of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - a designated foreign terrorist organization - is being contested by the owners of the charges. Mobin International Limited, Oman Fuel Trading Ltd and Sohar Fuel Trading LLC FZ have filed for dismissal. Erich Ferrari, a lawyer representing the owners of the gasoline loads, declined to comment.
The Justice Department, listed as the recipient of the cargo unloaded in late September, declined to comment when asked about the arrival of the tankers.
Iran first delivered gasoline to Venezuela in May when the first of five ships arrived. The subsequent seizure of cargoes by the U.S. could not prevent Iran from sending more fuel to the embattled South American nation, chronically short of crippled sanctions. Three other Iranian ships delivering gasoline arrived in Venezuela in late September.
To date, Venezuela has received around 2.37 million barrels of gasoline from Iran.
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