Civil forfeiture? Good idea or bad? There are a number of people who read this blog who have been critical of this in the past.
The U.S. has seized the cargo of four Iranian vessels believed to have been carrying an estimated 1.1 million barrels of gasoline, allegedly bound for Venezuela.
On Thursday, U.S. officials told the Associated Press they used legal means to seize the Iranian fuel shipments arranged between an Iranian businessman and Venezuela. The officials said the U.S. did not use military force or physically seize the cargo shipments but instead used sanctions against its private owners, insurers and their captains. With their latest actions, a U.S. official told the AP the Iranian fuel “now becomes U.S. property.”
It is not clear where the fuel shipments actually are as the four tanker vessels — the Bella, Bering, Pandi and Luna —reportedly turned off their tracking systems to hide their locations from U.S. searchers.
The new development comes a month after U.S. prosecutors filed a civil forfeiture complaint alleging the shipments were arranged as a private sale between businessman Mahmoud Madanipour and Venezuela. Madanipour is alleged to have ties to Iran’s paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a U.S.-designated terror group.
U.S. sanctions experts who spoke with the AP after the initial civil forfeiture complaint was filed said they believed the civil forfeiture effort would be difficult to enforce in international waters. But their fears of impotence apparently were unfounded.