The United States has issued a warrant for the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker captured by British Royal Marines in Gibraltar last month for allegedly violating international sanctions.
The Grace 1 vessel, which was ordered to be released by the Gibraltar Supreme Court after 43 days in detention, shifted position but remained anchored in the British Mediterranean territory late on Friday.
The tanker was seized by British Royal Marines at the western mouth of the Mediterranean on July 4 on suspicion of violating European Union sanctions by taking oil to Syria, a close ally of Iran.
Washington had attempted to seize the Grace 1 on the grounds that it had links to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which it has designated a "terrorist" organisation.
According to the warrant issued on Friday, the US Department of Justice alleged that the ship was part of a scheme "to unlawfully access the US financial system to support illicit shipments to Syria from Iran by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps."
The court document said the vessel and the 2.1 million barrels of oil aboard are subject to forfeiture based on violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as well as bank fraud, money laundering, and "terrorism" statutes.
It also ordered the seizure of $995,000 in an account at an unnamed US bank associated with Paradise Global Trading LLC, which it called a shell company associated with businesses which act for the Revolutionary Guards.
There was no immediate word from Britain or Gibraltar over whether they would act on the warrant, as Iran said it was sending a new crew to pilot the tanker.
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