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US imposes sanctions on Russian firm, vessels for transporting jet fuel to Syria

Highlights

Treasury calls Moscow company a front for sanctioned firm

Company delivered jet fuel to Syria in 2016, 2017

Washington — The US Treasury Department announced new sanctions Thursday in response to what it called a sanctions evasion conspiracy to deliver jet fuel to Russian forces in Syria in support of the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

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"Treasury is targeting a sanctions evasion scheme that includes front companies, vessels and conspirators who have been facilitating the illicit transfer of jet fuel to the Russian military in Syria," the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Sigal Mandelker, said in a statement.

Treasury imposed sanctions on Moscow-based Maritime Assistance LLC, which it called a front company for Russian shipping company, Sovfracht, which has been subject to US sanctions since September 2016 for operating in Crimea. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, a move which is not recognized by most of the international community.

After sanctions were imposed by the US, Sovfracht concealed shipments of jet fuel to Syria through Maritime Assistance.

"These transactions facilitated the sale and delivery of jet fuel in 2016 and 2017 to Banias, Syria, which was used by Russian military aircraft," Treasury said.

Treasury said Thursday it was sanctioning three senior Sovfracht officials and adding five vessels to its list of specially designated nationals and blocked persons list.

On Wednesday, the US imposed sanctions on six Chinese entities and their top executives for trading oil with Iran.

On Tuesday, the US imposed sanctions on four oil shipping companies and four tankers for moving Venezuelan crude and refined products to Cuba.

-- Brian Scheid, brian.scheid@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Jonathan Dart, newsdesk@spglobal.com