The US Department of the Treasury on Wednesday slapped sanctions on six petroleum companies and their leaders in four different countries for selling their products to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
The targeted companies and individuals are also accused of dealing with the UAE-based Pangates International Corporation, which was blacklisted by the US in July, according to a Treasury statement.
The Syrian-based Abdulkarim Group, the UAE-based Maxima Middle East Trading Company, the Netherlands-based Staroil B.V., the Swiss-based Rixo International as well as Bluemarine SA were all accused of "having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, directly or indirectly, Pangates and the Government of Syria," the statement said.
Wael Abdulkarim and Ahmad Barqawi, the men in charge of Abdulkarim Group and Maxima, respectively, were also designated "for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Pangates" as well as their own companies, the Treasury noted.
Barqawi is also the General Manager of Pangates.
Alexander Hollebrand and Paul Van Mazijk, senior executives at Staroil, were sanctioned "for having facilitated deceptive transactions for or on behalf of Pangates and the Government of Syria," along with Halis Bektas, a senior executive at Rixo and Bluemarine.
Bektas' other company, Skirron Holding, was also sanctioned for being under his ownership.
The sanctions "freeze any assets the designees may have under US jurisdiction and generally prohibit all financial and commercial transactions by any US person with the designees," the Treasury noted.
"We are committed to exposing, isolating, and targeting the Syrian regime's support networks," said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen in the statement. "So long as the illegitimate Assad regime carries out brutal attacks on its own people, we will seek to disrupt its critical military support networks and increase the financial and economic pressure it faces," Cohen added.
In November, 2013, "the Abdulkarim Group and Staroil arranged for the shipment of aviation fuel products to Syria through an intermediary port in Poland, in an effort to avoid sanctions against the Government of Syria, according to the statement. "These shipments included one for over 1,300 drums of aviation fuel from a Polish company which was likely destined for Syria, but showed evidence of falsification through the mislabeling and misrepresentation of the cargo's true contents and destination," it went on.
In June of this year, Abdulkarim, Maxima, Pangates, and Staroil "worked with a Russian oil and gas firm to obtain various types of base oil for transfer to government-controlled refineries in Syria. The base oil shipments were destined for the refineries in Homs and Damascus." In July, the Swiss companies Rixo and Bluemarine "apparently employed non-standard practices, likely with deceptive intent, such as requesting rapid changes to vessels' destinations to Syria from internationally acceptable and non-sanctioned nations such as Turkey, and presenting inaccurate product descriptions in shipping documents and invoices," the statement added.