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Treasury department releases more sanctions on network of Houthi facilitators

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The Department of the Treasury has released yet another round of sanctions today which target the increasingly aggressive duo of Iran and the Houthis.

The Houthis were designated as a foreign terrorist organization in 2021 under the Trump administration, but the designation was revoked by the Biden administration less than a month later.

In January, the Houthis had their designation reinstated, this time as a global terrorist group, following a series of maritime attacks on trade vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Iran has been accused of funding the group as far back as 2009, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

This latest round targets an Iranian-financed shipping and money-laundering network. The report includes sanctions on four vessels and two captains from India, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and Panama.

The Treasury Department alleges that Iran-based Houthi financier Sa’id al-Jamal uses a network of foreign shipping firms to transport and sell commodities to China, Syria and other regions.

Iran and al-Jamal use exchange houses to facilitate the movement of funds to the Houthis, allowing them to avoid sanctions and convert their commodities profits to cash.

This allows Iran to finance their terrorist-supporting operations while making their techniques harder to trace.

Key players being sanctioned include:

Shark International Shipping L.L.C.: Based in the UAE and Oman, led by John Britto Aruldhas, provides forged shipping documents.Rayyan Shipping (OPC) Private Limited: India-based and manages the vessel OLYMPICS, which carries cargo for the network with forged paperwork. Captained by Vivek Ashok Pandey. The vessel also operates under false documentation.’Abdallah Najib Ahmad al-Jamal: Sa’id al-Jamal’s nephew in Yemen, manages money laundering operations and coordinates with U.S.-sanctioned Bilal Hudroj and Yemeni exchange houses to move funds.Hong Kong-based Lainey Shipping Limited, registered owner of the Panama-flagged JANETPanama-based Louis Marine Shipholding Enterprises S.A., registered owner of the Panama-flagged BELLA 1Sandeep Singh Choudhary, master of the vessel LA PEARL, operates under the name ELITE as well.

The sanctions report further exposes the intricacy and breadth of Iran’s efforts to fund its proxies.

Funds from al-Jamal’s launderers are deposited into various currency exchanges in Yemen, Dubai, Istanbul and Lebanon, which then flow to the Houthis or back to the IRGC.

“The Houthis continue to leverage an expansive support network to facilitate their illicit activities, including hiding the origin of cargo, forging shipping documents, and providing services to sanctioned vessels,” said Brian E. Nelson, in a statement included in the report.

“The United States government is committed to disrupting and degrading the Houthis’ ability to engage in attacks against commercial shipping and naval vessels, as well as target those who seek to facilitate these activities,” said Nelson.