PortandTerminal.com, Sept. 5, 2019
The U.S. offered $15M to the captain of an Iranian oil tanker that it’s been trying to seize for weeks. It was a clever move that didn’t work out this time, but may in the future thanks to a clever programme called “Rewards for Justice”.
WASHINGTON, DC – A senior US official offered $15 million dollars to the Indian captain of an Iranian oil tanker suspected of heading to Syria illegally, the State Department confirmed on Wednesday.
The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that Brian Hook, the State Department’s lead on Iran, sent emails to Akhilesh Kumar, the Grace’s Captain, in which he offered “good news”. The goods news was that the US was prepared to give the Captain millions of dollars. In exchange for the money, the Captain was to take the vessel to an American friendly port where it could be seized by the United States.
“With this money, you can have any life you wish and be well-off in old age,” Mr Hook wrote in a second email to Mr Kumar that also included a warning. “If you choose not to take this easy path, life will be much harder for you.”
The tanker, which was carrying 2.1m barrels of oil, was detained on suspicion of illegally transporting oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions targeting the murderous regime of Bashar al Assad.
Six weeks after the tanker was detained though a Gibraltar judge ordered the release of the Grace 1 based upon Iranian promises that the tanker would not deliver its oil to the Syrians.
The judge in Gilbraltar had rejected a last-minute legal move by Washington demanding that the ship remain detained. The Americans were justifiably furious and the motives of the judge in Gibraltar must look a bit suspect now.
Frustrated after having its legal move rejected by the courts in Gibraltar, the US Justice Department then issued a warrant on Friday for the seizure of the Iranian oil supertanker Grace 1.
According to US officials, the US has recently started a programme called “Rewards of Justice” in its efforts to target Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The Rewards for Justice programme will offer rewards of up to $15m for information that helps the US disrupt Iranian illicit activities.
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