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Date: 06-11-2024

Case Style:

United States of America v. Zhenyu (“Bill”) Wang, Daniel Ray Lane

Case Number: 20-CR-191

Judge: Harvey Bartle III

Court: The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Phidelphia County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: The United States Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia

Defendant's Attorney:

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Description:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer represented the Defendants charged attempting to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”), conspiracy to violate IEEPA, and conspiracy to commit money laundering

Defendants Sentenced to Prison for Conspiracy to Sell Sanctioned Iranian Petroleum to China



Zhenyu (“Bill”) Wang, 43, of Dallas, Texas, and Daniel Ray Lane, 42, of McKinney, Texas, who were convicted at trial in November 2023, were sentenced to prison.

From July 2019 to February 2020, the defendants schemed to evade United States economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran (“Iran”) by facilitating the purchase of sanctioned oil from Iran, masking its origins, and selling the oil under masked origins to buyers in the People’s Republic of China. To accomplish their goal, the conspirators communicated among themselves and with third parties concerning, among other things, concealing the origin of the oil and the overall illegal transaction, financing the transaction, preparing contracts and other documents needed to effect the sale, shipping the sanctioned Iranian oil, obtaining Antiguan passports to facilitate the transaction and to establish offshore bank accounts to receive funds, distributing proceeds from the intended sale of the sanctioned Iranian oil, and concealing and disguising the nature, the location, the source, the ownership and the control of the proceeds of the intended transaction.

Wang played a critical role in this conspiracy, providing the connection to the Chinese buyers who would purchase the Iranian oil. As part of his efforts, Wang communicated with multiple parties in China, secured a written offer from a Chinese buyer, and brokered a contract of sale with this buyer. He also arranged for bribe payments to be made to Chinese officials to facilitate the illegal transaction. Lane agreed to help launder the Iranians’ proceeds from the transaction. He offered to use the mineral rights that he sold through his business, Stack Royalties, to conceal the Iranians’ profits, and even purchased a cash machine to count the millions of dollars of laundered proceeds quickly. Wang and Lane worked with three other conspirators who acted as intermediaries seeking buyers for the sanctioned oil.

The conspirators believed that they would profit handsomely from the scheme to evade U.S. sanctions through significant shipments of sanctioned Iranian oil. They planned to start their scheme with a 500,000-barrel shipment of Iranian oil, but intended to increase the shipments to 1 million or 2 million barrels per month for a year or more. Lane and another co-conspirator understood that the scheme was to be funded by an initial $5 million payment, which would include $4 million provided in cash. And the conspirators believed that they would make significant profits, with Wang stating that he planned to make $1.5 million in profit for each 500,000-barrel shipment.

Wang and Lane acted fully aware that the scheme to sell sanctioned Iranian crude oil was in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran. In fact, both defendants made statements explicitly acknowledging that their conduct was illegal. Wang, for example, acknowledged the profits he stood to make by engaging in illegal transactions, stating that “I love sanction to be honest with you and the sanctions make everybody money.” Similarly, Lane discussed concealing and disguising the proceeds of the transactions in sanctioned Iranian oil, noting that “sanctions can always be massaged . . . you know, there is always a way around it.”

“It’s one thing to be entrepreneurial and take risks, but when your business plan hinges on evading U.S. sanctions, you’re doing it wrong,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “Wang, Lane, and their co-conspirators’ scheme to make millions also would have enriched Iran, one of our government’s foreign adversaries, in direct contravention of measures meant to protect American interests and national security. Holding accountable those who violate our sanctions laws and export controls is a priority for my office and our partners at the FBI.”

“In seeking personal profits, these co-conspirators attempted to violate sanctions put in place to protect the United States’ national security,” said Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Philadelphia. “Let this sentence serve as a reminder – those who seek to orchestrate such criminal acts will be brought to justice.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Patrick J. Murray and Mary E. Crawley.

Outcome:

Defendants were found guilty and each sentenced to 45 months’ imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release

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