WASHINGTON – The United States announced on Wednesday that it has offered a reward of $15 million for information that will lead to breaking up of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (ICRG) financial mechanisms, including information on oil sales and tankers.
The US Department of State promised the reward for “information leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its branches,” it said in a statement.
“This includes seeking information on the IRGC’s illicit oil sales, including via oil tankers like the Adrian Darya,” it added.
The Iranian oil supertanker Adrian Darya 1, formerly named Grace 1, was stopped by British Royal Navy patrol vessel guards on July 4.
It was detained off the coast of Gibraltar on suspicion of carrying oil to Syria, a country subject to European Union sanctions.
The vessel was freed on August 15 by order of a court in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on the southern tip of Spain, after Iran provided assurances that the tanker’s cargo would not be taken to Syria.
The release took place despite a US attempt to prevent the move.
Iran’s head of the State Department, Brian Hook, reportedly sent an email on August 26 to Akhilesh Kumar, captain of Adrian Darya 1.
In the email, seen by The Financial Times newspaper, Hook said that he had good news and that he could offer Kumar a reward that would allow him to have the kind of life he wanted if he took the ship to a country where it could be seized on behalf of the US.
Four days later, and in the absence of the captain’s response, the US announced sanctions against Kumar and his tanker.
“Captains and crews of vessels engaged in illicit activity like the #AdrianDarya1 stand to gain far more from @Rewards4Justice than from Iran – simply by stopping IRGC and Quds Force efforts to fund Assad’s murderous regime,” Garrett Marquis, spokesman for the National Security Council of the White House, wrote on his official Twitter account.
The latest news suggests that the ship’s transponder has stopped emitting signal in its heading to Syria, despite the fact that the Iranian authorities denied that this was its destination.
The Treasury Department also announced sanctions against what it described as an extensive distribution network of Iran’s oil, which in the past year has sent crude oil bound for Syria and China.
The announcement affects about 16 entities and 10 individuals, and identifies 11 ships, including the Adrian Darya, as property over which already sanctioned people have interests.