U.S. Hits Terror-Supporting Iranian Bank Officials and Iraqi Bank with Financial Sanctions

Hezbollah Leader
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The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions Tuesday on the Central Bank of Iran’s Governor and a senior official, as well as an Iraq-based bank and its chairman, on charges of terror for moving money to Hizballah for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF).

The individuals and financial institution were designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists as part of the announcement under an executive order signed by then-President George W. Bush shortly after the September 11, 2001 Islamic terror attacks. The order “targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.” All of those sanctions have “moved millions of dollars on behalf of the [IRGC-QF] to Hizballah.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin issued a statement as part of the announcement:

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 Hizballah. 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 Hizballah, and it undermines any credibility he could claim in protecting the integrity of the institution as a central bank governor.

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.

Tuesday’s action cutting off a critical banking network for Iran followed disruption of a currency network last week that is associated with IRGC-QF. Together the actions “seek to stifle Iran’s ability to abuse the U.S. and regional financial systems,” according to Treasury. These are part of a Trump administration Treasury campaign against the IRGC.

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran Nuclear deal (JCPOA) last week and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

“OFAC 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,” read a portion of the Treasury’s statement on new sanctions.

Seif’s actions aided the IRGC-QF in moving currency internationally to fund its activities. Assistant director of the International Department at the Central Bank of Iran Ali Tarzali was also designated for acts supporting the IRGC-QF. He has worked with Hizballah. Seif and Tarzali are also being hit with secondary sanctions under Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations (IFSR). These secondary sanctions affect individuals’ ability to open or maintain a correspondent or a payable-through account in the United States.

The sanctions on Seif and Tarzali do not extend to the Bank of Iran; however, President Trump’s decision to leave the JCPOA and reimpose sanctions will extend to some of the central bank’s transactions.

OFAC also designated Chairman and Chief Executive of Al-Bilad Islamic Bank Aras Habib for assisting the IRGC-QF, facilitating the movement of funds from Tehran to Hizballah. Al-Bilad Islamic Bank is also designated, as it is owned or controlled by Habib. Habib and the bank are also subject to secondary sanctions.

OFAC also designated Muhammad Qasir “for acting for or on behalf of Hizballah.” He has participated in transferring funds from IRGC-QF to Hizballah. He faces secondary sanctions as well.

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