Iran has detained a tanker and its crew of 14 Asian seafarers in a smuggling case. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized Sunday a foreign oil tanker carrying around two million litres of alleged “smuggled fuel”, local media reported.

Brigadier General Heydar Honarian Mojarrad, a commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in Bushehr province, told the semi-official news agency of the Iranian government, Mehr News Agency, that the vessel, with the flag of an Oceanian country, was carrying 2 million liters of “smuggled fuel”.

The seizure took place upon a court order early Sunday, according to the IRGC general, as the news agency reports.

The IRGC also detained the tanker’s 14 crew members who had Asian nationalities.

He added that the seized fuel would be handed over to the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC) based on the court order.

Earlier in January, Iran released the single Greek seafarer on board an oil tanker that its forces seized in the Gulf of Oman.

The Greek cadet of the tanker St Nikolas, which was seized in the Gulf of Oman by Iran’s navy, repatriated.

The ship St. Nikolas was sailing laden, with a cargo of about 145,000 mts of crude oil loaded in Basrah, Iraq and destined to Aliaga (Turkey), via the Suez Canal, when she was seized by Iran on 11 January.

Empire Navigation, managers of St. Nikolas, reported on January 19 that the Filipino Ambassador to Iran visited the vessel and met with the 18 remaining seafarers, who are reported of good health and in frequent contact with their families.

The company said that expects to see further developments regarding the seafarers’ release soon and remains fully committed and dedicated to this cause.

“We remain in constant cooperation with the seafarers’ families, working with specialized professionals to provide psychological support during this emotional and difficult time. Family members will have access to these resources until all seafarers are safely released, at which time the seafarers themselves will have the support as long as necessary,” reads the statement of Empire Navigation.

As Shipping Telegraph reported on September 19, 2023 the US Department of Justice confirmed on September 8 that it had seized the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker St. Nikolas (formerly known as Suez Rayan), and its cargo of more than 980,000 barrels.

The US government seized the allegedly Iranian oil, that was bound for another country.

The US Justice Department claimed that on April 19, Suez Rajan Limited pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

On that same date, in accordance with the statement released by the US Justice Department on September 8, the company was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Carl J. Nichols to three years of corporate probation and a fine of almost $2.5 million.