When a VLCC transferred an oil cargo onto an Empire Navigation vessel in February 2022, it was just a fraction of the many millions of barrels of the commodity that US authorities claim the tanker had helped move from Iran to China.

That is why it was being watched by United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) and how that ship-to-ship transfer would lead 19 months later to the first criminal conviction in the US of this type of sanctions busting earlier this month.