The United States on Thursday put sanctions on Turkish businessman Sıtkı Ayan and his companies over charges of “selling oil on behalf of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards” and “money laundering”.
The US Treasury Department stated that Ayan and 26 other Turkish companies and related businessmen supported Iran-related organisations that the US designated as global terrorist organisations.
With this ruling, all assets of sanctioned business people in the US will be frozen and they will be prohibited from doing business with American citizens. Those who do business with these people and their companies will also be subject to sanctions.
Ayan’s companies played a role in the sale of Iranian oil on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) by establishing international sales contracts, arranging shipments and helping to launder the proceeds, the US Treasury Department said.
The Treasury Department also noted that one of Ayan’s companies purchased a Panamanian-flagged liquefied natural gas tanker for the IRGC-QF.
“For years, businessman Sitki Ayan has provided support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Lebanese Hizballah. US Treasury Department designated his international oil smuggling and money laundering network. We’ll continue to enforce sanctions on the IRGC’s illicit oil sales,” the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter.
Ayan spoke to Reuters about the US sanctions. “I have never worked with anyone other than Iranian official government institutions in any period of my life,” he said.
Ayan’s name had previously come up when Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his relatives of evading taxes on the Isle of Man.
According to Kılıçdaroğlu’s allegations in 2017, Ayan was the only board member of a company established in the Isle of Man, to which Erdoğan’s family and relatives sent money. The businessman later handed over the company to Kazım Öztaş, another businessman on the US sanctions list.
Ayan came to the fore in 2013 as a businessman who received the second largest investment incentive in the history of the Turkish Republic, given by the government to build an oil pipeline that will transport Iranian natural gas to Europe.