A United Nations agency acknowledged Sunday that a U.S.-sought oil tanker “hijacked” off the coast of the United Arab Emirates after allegedly smuggling Iranian crude oil is back in Iranian waters.The International Labor Organization said that the MT Gulf Sky was hijacked July 5, citing its captain. That mirrors earlier reporting by The Associated Press.
Gulf Sky fka Nautica Source: VesselFinder.com
“The vessel was taken to Iran,” the ILO said.
Iranian state media and officials have not acknowledged the hijacking and arrival of the MT Gulf Sky to Iran. The U.S. government similarly has not commented.
In May, the U.S. Justice Department filed criminal charges against two Iranians, accusing them of trying to launder some $12 million to purchase the tanker, then named the MT Nautica, through a series of front companies.
Court documents allege the smuggling scheme involved the Quds Force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which is its elite expeditionary unit, as well as Iran’s national oil and tanker companies. The two men charged, one of whom also has an Iraqi passport, remain at large.
A U.S. bank froze funds associated with the sale, causing the seller to launch a lawsuit in the UAE to repossess the vessel, the Justice Department earlier said. That civil action was believed to still be pending, raising questions of how the tanker sailed away from the Emirates after being seized by authorities there.