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Treasury Targets Companies and Vessels Behind Illicit Houthi Shipments

Treasury Targets Companies and Vessels Behind Illicit Houthi Shipments

WASHINGTON — Today, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is sanctioning ten individuals, entities, and vessels, including tanker captains, in multiple jurisdictions that have engaged in the illicit transport of oil and other commodities, including for the network of Houthi financial facilitator Sa’id al-Jamal. This action targets maritime shipping and financial facilitators, several vessel managers and owners, and a company involved in forging shipping documents. Today’s action, the seventh round of sanctions targeting the network of Sa’id al-Jamal since October 2023, underscores the U.S. government’s commitment to isolating and disrupting the financing of international terrorist groups such as the Houthis. 

“The Houthis continue to leverage an expansive support network to facilitate their illicit activities, including hiding the origin of cargo, forging shipping documents, and providing services to sanctioned vessels,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “As we demonstrated with our military strikes last week, the United States government is committed to disrupting and degrading the Houthis’ ability to engage in attacks against commercial shipping and naval vessels, as well as target those who seek to facilitate these activities.”

Today’s action is being taken pursuant to the counterterrorism sanctions authority, Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended. OFAC designated Sa’id al-Jamal pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, on June 10, 2021, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF). The IRGC-QF was designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 on October 25, 2007, for providing support to multiple terrorist groups. The U.S. Department of State designation of Ansarallah (commonly known as the Houthis) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist group, pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, became effective on February 16, 2024.

HOUTHI SHIPMENTS

Houthi financier Sa’id al-Jamal, who goes by the Chinese alias “Caihong” (彩虹), or “Rainbow,” relies on a network of foreign shipping firms to sell and transport commodities to China, Syria, and other jurisdictions. United Arab Emirates (UAE)- and Oman-based Shark International Shipping L.L.C, under the leadership of its managing director John Britto Aruldhas, has worked with the Sa’id al-Jamal network to furnish forged shipping documents for vessels shipping commodities on behalf of the Houthis.

India-based Rayyan Shipping (OPC) Private Limited (Rayyan) has served as the manager and technical operator of the sanctioned Guyana-flagged vessel OLYMPICS (IMO: 9212759), formerly known as the LADY SOFIA, which continues to carry cargo for the Sa’id al-Jamal network. As of mid-May, the OLYMPICS, captained by Vivek Ashok Pandey, was operating under forged paperwork falsely indicating that the vessel was carrying Malaysian commodities that were loaded at a Malaysian port in late April. Pandey has captained the LADY SOFIA since it onboarded commodities on behalf of the Sa’id al-Jamal network in late January. The OLYMPICS remains in the East China Sea.  

Additionally, OFAC is designating Sa’id al-Jamal’s Yemen-based nephew ‘Abdallah Najib Ahmad al-Jamal (‘Abdallah al-Jamal), who manages money laundering operations for the Sa’id al-Jamal network. ‘Abdallah al-Jamal works with U.S.-designated money launderer Bilal Hudroj and sanctioned Yemeni exchange houses Davos Company for Exchange and Transfers and Al-Rawda Exchange and Money Transfers Company to move funds on behalf of Sa’id al-Jamal. ‘Abdallah al-Jamal has handled millions of dollars’ worth of currency that has been transferred to Yemen as part of these money laundering operations. 

Shark International Shipping L.L.C, Rayyan Shipping (OPC) Private Limited, Vivek Ashok Pandey, and ‘Abdallah Najib Ahmad al-Jamal are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Sa’id al-Jamal. OFAC is designating John Britto Aruldhas pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Shark International Shipping L.L.C. 

ADDITIONAL ILLICIT SHIPMENTS

In addition, OFAC is designating Hong Kong-based Lainey Shipping Limited, the registered owner of the Panama-flagged JANET, and Panama-based Louis Marine Shipholding Enterprises S.A., the registered owner of the Panama-flagged BELLA 1, for their role in carrying sanctioned cargo on behalf of Hizballah-owned and OFAC-designated Concepto Screen SAL Off-Shore to Southeast Asia. Lainey Shipping Limited and Louis Marine Shipholding Enterprises S.A. are being designated, pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF. The JANET is being identified as blocked property in which Lainey Shipping Limited has an interest and the BELLA 1 as blocked property in which Louis Marine Shipholding Enterprises S.A. has an interest. 

OFAC is also designating Sandeep Singh Choudhary, the master of the vessel LA PEARL, which also operates under the name ELITE. OFAC identified the LA PEARL as property in which Saone Shipping Corporation has an interest on April 25, 2024. Saone Shipping Corporation was concurrently designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Sepehr Energy Jahan Nama Pars Company (SEJ). The LA PEARL is currently anchored off the coast of China following its delivery of sanctioned cargo. Sandeep Singh Choudhary is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, SEJ.

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated persons described above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. 

In addition, financial institutions and other persons that engage in certain transactions or activities with the sanctioned entities and individuals may expose themselves to sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any designated person, or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person. 

The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the SDN List, but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897.  For detailed information on the process to submit a request for removal from an OFAC sanctions list.

Click here for more information on the individuals and entities designated today.

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Official news published at https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy2399

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