Monday, 29 November 2021 09:51 GMT

US sanctions Iranian, Iraqi bankers for aiding Quds Force


(MENAFN- Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) WASHINGTON, May 15 (KUNA) -- The Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed sanctions on the governor and a senior official of the Central Bank of Iran, an Iraq-based bank and its chairman, and a key Hezbollah official, all of whom have moved millions of dollars on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) to Hezbollah, the department announced.
They were designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) pursuant to an executive order that targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism, the announcement said.
"Iran's Central Bank Governor covertly funneled millions of dollars on behalf of the IRGC-QF through Iraq-based al-Bilad Islamic Bank to enrich and support the violent and radical agenda of Hezbollah," the announcement said.
"It is appalling, but not surprising, that Iran's senior-most banking official would conspire with the IRGC-QF to facilitate funding of terror groups like Hezbollah, and it undermines any credibility he could claim in protecting the integrity of the institution as a central bank governor," said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
"The United States will not permit Iran's increasingly brazen abuse of the international financial system. The global community must remain vigilant against Iran's deceptive efforts to provide financial support to its terrorist proxies." The action cuts off Iran's use of a critical banking network and follows last Thursday's disruption of an IRGC-QF-associated currency exchange network procuring millions of dollars through the UAE, the statement, noting both actions seek to stifle Iran's ability to abuse the US and regional financial systems.
"These actions continue the aggressive campaign against the IRGC and its proxies that the Treasury Department has led under this administration," the statement said.
The actions build upon President Donald Trump's decision last Tuesday to cease US participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and begin re-imposing US sanctions that had been lifted under the JCPOA, including against the Central Bank of Iran, it said.
The department is designating Valiollah Seif, Iran's Central Bank governor, for assisting, sponsoring or providing financial, material or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF, the announcement said.
"Seif has conspired with the IRGC-QF to move millions of dollars through the international financial system in a variety of foreign currencies to allow the IRGCآ­-QF to fund its activities abroad.
Seif has also supported the transfer of IRGC-QF-associated funds to al-Bilad Islamic Bank, an Iraq-based bank which is also being designated today." The department also is designating Ali Tarzali, the assistant director of the International Department at the Central Bank of Iran, for assisting, sponsoring or providing financial, material or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF, the statement said.
Tarzali has worked with Hezbollah and proposed that the terrorist group send funds through Iraq-based Al-Bilad Islamic Bank, it said.
As a result of today's actions, Valiollah Seif and Ali Tarzali are subject to secondary sanctions pursuant to the Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations (IFSR), which implement, among other authorities, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA).
Today's designations of Valiollah Seif, Iran's Central Bank Governor, and Ali Tarzali, assistant director of the International Department at the Central Bank of Iran, do not extend to the Central Bank of Iran, the statement said.
However, due to Trump's decision last Tuesday to cease the US participation in the JCPOA as of August 7, the US government will re-impose sanctions that extend to certain transactions with the Central Bank of Iran, including sanctions on the purchase or acquisition of US dollars bank notes by the government of Iran, it said.
Furthermore, on November 5, additional sanctions will be re-imposed on persons knowingly engaging in certain significant transactions with the Central Bank of Iran, it said.
The department is designating Aras Habib, the chairman and chief executive of Al-Bilad Islamic Bank, for assisting, sponsoring or providing financial, material or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF, the announcement said.
"Aras Habib enabled the IRGC-QF's exploitation of Iraq's banking sector to move funds from Tehran to Hezbollah, jeopardizing the integrity of the Iraqi financial system," it said.
"Habib, who has a history of serving as a conduit for financial disbursements from the IRGC-QF to Iranian-backed Iraqi groups, has also helped provide IRGC-QF financial support to Lebanese Hezbollah. Al-Bilad Islamic Bank is being designated for being owned or controlled by Aras Habib," it added.
As a result of today's actions, Aras Habib and Al-Bilad Bank are subject to secondary sanctions pursuant to the IFSR, which implement, among other authorities, CISADA, the statement said.
The department is designating Muhammad Qasir for acting for or on behalf of Hezbollah, the statement said. "Qasir acted as a critical conduit for financial disbursements from the IRGC-QF to Hezbollah," it said, adding Qasir has worked with the IRGC-QF to transfer funds.
Qasir is subject to secondary sanctions pursuant to the Hezbollah Financial Sanctions Regulations, which implements the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015, the statement said. (end) rm.ma

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