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US sanctions pro-Erdoğan businessman over Iran oil trade

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The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on Turkish businessman Sıtkı Ayan for allegedly operating a trading network that handled hundreds of millions of dollars worth of oil from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Agence France-Presse reported.

Ayan, an associate of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Ayan’s son and a top lieutenant were placed on the US Treasury’s sanctions blacklist, freezing any assets they have under US jurisdiction and inhibiting their access to global financial and trading markets.

The Treasury said Ayan has helped the IRGC’s elite Quds Force by arranging the sale and shipment of oil it controls to China and other East Asian buyers, Europe and the United Arab Emirates.

He has also helped move the proceeds from the sales to the IRGC, the Treasury said.

It said he used the network of his Gibraltar-registered ASB Group of Companies to hide the origins of the oil and the destination of the payments.

Ayan also used one of his companies to buy a Panamanian-flagged liquefied natural gas tanker for the IRGC, it said.

Also listed for sanctions was Kasım Öztaş, a senior official in the ASB Group who “directly handles much of Ayan’s business,” and Ayan’s son Bahaddin Ayan.

The Treasury also placed around 20 companies in the ASB Group and Ayan network on its blacklist.

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