DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Four men from North Texas and one from New York City are accused of trying to buy oil illegally from Iran in order to sell to a Chinese refinery, officials said.
In a statement issued Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia, Zhenyu Wang, Robert Thwaites and Nicholas James Fuchs, all of Dallas; Daniel Ray Lane of McKinney, Texas; and Nicholas Hovan of New York City are charged with conspiracy and violating U.S. economic sanctions on Iran.
The criminal complaint alleges that since last July, the five had tried to buy the Iranian oil illegally to sell to a refinery in China, which is a violation of U.S. trade sanctions. The complaint alleges that they planned to make two shipments of oil per month with an expected profit of $28 million per month.
U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a statement that the sanctions violations would jeopardize U.S. security.
"The defendants in this case allegedly committed serious federal crimes that are in direct contradiction to the United States' national security interests," McSwain said. "By devising a scheme to purchase oil from Iran, conceal its origins via a refinery in China and make tremendous profits, the defendants were attempting to enrich both themselves and the nation of Iran -- thus jeopardizing the safety and security of the United States and our allies..."
If convicted, each of the men could be sentenced to up to 25 years in federal prison and fined up to $1.25 million.
It was unclear from federal records where the five were being detained or if they had attorneys to speak for them.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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