|CD Palestino, a Palestnian football club in Chile|
While there has been extensive press coverage of the illicit shipment of sanctioned Iranian crude oil and petroleum products to Asia, especially when brokered through the efforts of Alireza Monfared, who operated out of the Malaysian offshore financial center in Labuan, there has been no public media coverage of Iran's covert oil sales to the countries of Latin America, which were extensive.
There is little in the way of details regarding Iran's oil sales operation in Central and South America; we know that the original plan was for the countries obtaining oil to pay for it through the shipment of agricultural products grown locally, but there is no information that this ever occurred. Reliable sources have stated that the purchasing countries defaulted upon their payment to Iran.
New information received indicates that the transactions were brokered by Palestinians, though where these brokers are located is not known. There is a direct connection between Palestinians and Iran; it is Hamas, the designated global terrorist group operating in Gaza. Is it the Hamas representives to Iran who are the brokers ? Unfortunately, there is no further information available at this time. Compliance officers in North America, not being aware of the illicit traffic in Iranian oil, could unwittingly accept funds from these Palestinan brokers, and follow orders to transfer them, albeit indirectly, to Iranian control. Thus lies the problem; OFAC monetary penalties can be severe.
What are the other possible choices ? Chile has the largest population of Palestinians outside of the Middle East. It is estimated that there may be as many as 500,000 Palestinians in Chile; others live in a number of countries in Central America, including Honduras and El Salvador.
Compliance officers whose clients or customers' clients deal with crude oil brokers n Latin America should be alert to the possibility that those brokers may be handling Iranian oil. have you performed due diligence on the staff of the broker ? Do any of the staff members have Arab names , and therefore could possibly be Palestinian ? Palestinians are known to be the largest group of Arabs living in the region. Are the funds going to a known intermediary country for payments to Iran ? Banking clients in the petroleum industry, who reside in Latin America, could be a high-risk endeavour.
Check out your existing clients to insure you are not banking a Palestinian oil broker.