Houthi Financial Network Targeted by New Sanctions

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Updated Published

The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has intensified its efforts against entities facilitating Iranian goods shipments connected to Sa’id al-Jamal, a figure linked to the Iran-based Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF).

These measures aim to curb the financial inflow from al-Jamal's operations, which are known to finance Houthi assaults on international maritime routes.

Specifically, OFAC has designated two shipping entities located in Hong Kong and the Marshall Islands, along with two of their ships, for their roles in transporting goods for al-Jamal. This follows a February 27 action against the ship Artura, implicated in similar activities. According to the Treasury Department, the profits from al-Jamal’s network substantially support Houthi militant operations, which have targeted international shipping lanes in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson, stated, “The IRGC-QF and the Houthis continue to exploit illegal commodity sales to fund their assaults on commercial vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The United States is committed to holding those responsible for these destabilizing acts accountable.”

The imposition of these new sanctions coincides with recent claims by the Houthis of executing their most notable attack yet by sinking the M/V Rubymar. Additionally, this week saw attacks on two vessels, the MSC Sky II, which suffered a fire, and the True Confidence, now reportedly deserted. In the attack on the True Confidence, three individuals were reported missing, and several others injured.

On June 10, 2021, Sa’id al-Jamal was designated under Executive Order 13224 for his significant support to the IRGC-QF, which itself was designated under the same order in 2007 for backing various terrorist groups.

One instance highlighted the vessel Reneez, under Palau’s flag and operated by Reneez Shipping Limited based in the Marshall Islands, shipping large quantities of Iranian goods for al-Jamal’s network. This network frequently employs counterfeit cargo documents to conceal the Iranian origin of the shipments and its connections to Iran and al-Jamal.

Previously, the Panama-flagged ship, Artura, faced sanctions for its role in transporting Iranian commodities for al-Jamal. In a related case, the Eternal Fortune, owned by Hong Kong's Hongkong Unitop Group Ltd, engaged in suspicious transactions with Artura, using manipulated Automatic Identification System signals to conceal their operations.