WASHINGTON (AP) - The Biden administration is imposing sanctions on a prominent Turkish businessman reportedly close to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for violations of U.S. restrictions on the sales of Iranian oil.
The Treasury Department announced Thursday it was penalizing Sitki Ayan and a number of companies he and his family and associates control for facilitating the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars of Iranian oil for Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
Ayan and his firms have also laundered the proceeds of those sales for both the Guard and Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, both of which are designated as "foreign terrorist organizations" by the U.S., Treasury said.
The sanctions include a freeze on any assets Ayan or the targeted companies may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing any business with them.
"Ayan's companies have established international sales contracts for Iranian oil with foreign purchasers, arranged shipments of oil, and helped launder the proceeds, obscuring the oil's Iranian origin and the (Guard's) interest in the sales," Treasury said in a statement.
It said Ayan, his son, Bahaddin, and three associates had organized sales of Iranian oil in violation of U.S. sanctions for China, other east Asian nations, the United Arab Emirates and some customers in Europe through Ayan's Gibralter-based ASB Group of Companies Limited holding group.
ASB owns or controls numerous firms in Turkey, Cyprus, India and the Marshall Islands.