Turkish national, three Turkish companies sanctioned for "supporting terrorists"

The U.S. government has published a list of companies and individuals newly classified as "Specially Designated Global Terrorists" for supporting U.S.-sanctioned Iranian companies with links to terrorist-designated organisations.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the nine individuals and entities, including one Turkish citizen and three Turkish companies "for enabling designated Iranian airline Mahan Air to secure key aviation goods and services and sustain its fleet of Western-manufactured aircraft. Mahan Air was designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 on October 12, 2011, for providing financial, material, and technological support to the IRGC­QF." 

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps - Quds Force, or IRGCQF, is Iran's special operations force led by Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and reporting directly to the country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Reportedly active in dozens of countries, the force has been classed as a supporter of terrorism by the United States since 2007.

The U.S. Treasury said in a press release on Thursday that the three Turkish companies formed the Turkey-based procurement network to help Iranian companies evade sanctions.

Mahan Air was also mentioned during the trial of Reza Zarrab and Mehmet Hakan Atilla late last year, in which Zarrab became the U.S. witness and Atilla, a former Halkbank executive, was found guilty of five of six charges  related to breaking U.S. sanctions on Iran. During the trial, Zarrab was accused of helping Mahan Air evade U.S. sanctions. 

OFAC’s decision is based on Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.

“The facilitators designated by the Treasury today have been procuring parts and providing services for the fleets of sanctioned Iranian airlines, including Mahan Air, Caspian Air, Meraj Air, and Pouya Air.  In so doing, they extend a lifeline to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard -Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and enable the Iranian regime to transport weapons, fighters, and money to its proxies, including Hizballah, and to prop up the brutal Assad regime,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

According to the press release, Turkish citizen Gülnihal Yegane and a network of Istanbul-based firms, including Trigron, a logistics company owned by Yegane, RA Havacilik, and 3G Lojistik, were designated by OFAC for enabling Iranian airline Mahan Air to secure key aviation goods and services and sustain its fleet of Western-manufactured aircraft.

“As a result of today’s actions, Gülnihal Yegane, Trigron Lojistik, 3G Lojistik, and RA Havacilik are subject to secondary sanctions pursuant to the Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations (IFSR), which implement, among other authorities, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA),” the U.S. Treasury said in its press release.

Istanbul based Otik Aviation was also designated for providing material support to Mahan Air and regularly supplying the Iranian airline with export-controlled, U.S.-origin aircraft parts. The company will be subject to secondary sanctions.