The USG has unsealed the "warrant" it issued for the seizure of the Iranian tanker released by Gibraltar yesterday. Far more interesting than the unsealed warrant is the press release announcing the unsealing of the warrant which is at the same time triumphantly self congratulating while including one very important caveat, bolded in the text of the press release reproduced below:
WASHINGTON – A seizure warrant and forfeiture complaint were unsealed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that Oil Tanker “Grace 1,” all petroleum aboard it and $995,000.00 are subject to forfeiture based on violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), bank fraud statute, and money laundering statute, as well as separately the terrorism forfeiture statute.
John Demers, Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division, Jessie K. Liu, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Steven W. Cagen, Special Agent in Charge, Denver, Colorado, Homeland Security Investigations; and Jill Sanborn, Special Agent in Charge, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Federal Bureau of Investigation, made the announcement.
The documents allege a scheme to unlawfully access the U.S. financial system to support illicit shipments to Syria from Iran by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization. The scheme involves multiple parties affiliated with the IRGC and furthered by the deceptive voyages of the Grace 1. A network of front companies allegedly laundered millions of dollars in support of such shipments.
A seizure warrant and a forfeiture complaint are merely allegations. The burden to prove forfeitability in a civil forfeiture proceeding is upon the government.
In announcing the forfeiture complaint and seizure warrant, U.S. Attorney Liu commended the work of those who investigated the case from HSI and FBI. They also expressed appreciation for the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs for its assistance in this case. Finally, they acknowledged the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zia Faruqui and Brian Hudak and National Security Division Trial Attorney David Lim who are handling this matter, with assistance from Paralegal Elizabeth Swinec and Brian Rickers, and Legal Assistant Jessica McCormick from the U.S. Attorney’s Office from the District of Columbia.
As Mircea Popescu very helpfully pointed out yesterday in response to this failure of the USG to impose its will: