Iran Sanctions: Texans Convicted of Oil Purchase Scheme

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Two Texas men were convicted at trial on Nov. 15 on charges of attempting to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), conspiracy to violate IEEPA, and conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with their attempt to transact in sanctioned Iranian petroleum and launder the proceeds.

According to evidence presented at trial, in 2019 and early 2020, Zhenyu “Bill” Wang and Daniel Ray Lane engaged in a conspiracy to purchase petroleum from Iran, in violation of economic sanctions imposed by the United States under IEEPA.

They then planned to mask the origins of the petroleum and sell it to a refinery in China. The defendants also attempted to conceal their illegal transactions by obtaining foreign passports, engaging in sham contractual agreements, and conspiring to launder the proceeds of the sale through shell entities and offshore financial accounts.

For example, Lane offered to use the mineral rights that his company sold to launder proceeds for the Iranian sellers. In addition, Wang arranged for bribe payments to be paid the Chinese officials and bankers.

“These defendants schemed to buy Iranian oil, hide its origins, and sell it to a refinery in China in disregard of U.S. sanctions against Iran,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “The Justice Department will not tolerate those who would violate U.S. sanctions and imperil our national security for personal profit.”

Wang and Lane, as well as three co-conspirators, were originally charged by complaint in February 2020, and the defendants and two co-conspirators were indicted on the above charges in August 2020. Wang and Lane face each a maximum penalty of 45 years in prison: five years for conspiracy to violate IEEPA and 20 years for each attempting to violate the IEEPA and conspiracy to commit money laundering counts. The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 29, 2024.