Islamic State (ISIS) militants are earning about US$1 million a day from black market oil sales alone, according a US Treasury Department official.
David Cohen, who leads the department’s effort to undermine the ISIS’ finances, said the oil is reaching legitimate markets and is hinting that traders accepting illicit shipments may soon be facing sanctions.
“It is difficult to get precise revenue estimates… but we estimate that beginning in mid-June , ISIS has earned approximately US$1 million a day from oil sales,” said Cohen.
Some analysts reckon the figure could be as high as US$3 million a day.
The treasury said ISIS is selling heavily discounted oil to a variety of middlemen in Turkey and elsewhere.
“It also appears that some of the oil emanating from territory where ISIS operates has been sold to Kurds in Iraq, and then resold into Turkey,” said Cohen, who also believes the Syrian government may have bought oil from ISIS held territory.
Cohen concedes that the illicitly traded oil is hard to track. But the treasury appears to have information indicating it ultimately reaches legitimate markets, and it seems US is prepared to use sanctions at that point.
“At some point, that oil is acquired by someone who operates in the legitimate economy and who makes use of the financial system. He has a bank account. His business may be financed, his trucks may be insured, his facilities may be licensed,” Cohen said.
“We not only can cut them off from the US financial system and freeze their assets, but we can also make it very difficult for them to find a bank anywhere that will touch their money or process their transactions,” he added.
Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News