For the first time the United States is expanding its sanctions against Iran to include the country’s Central Bank and its entire financial system because of the nation’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
“If you are a financial institution and you engage in any transaction involving Iran’s Central Bank or any other Iranian bank operating inside or outside Iran, you are at risk of supporting Iran’s illicit activities: its pursuit of nuclear weapons, its support for terrorism, and its efforts to deceive responsible financial institutions and evade sanctions,” Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said in a press conference Monday afternoon.
He added that if the regime continues to pursue nuclear weapons, “No option is off the table—including the possibility of imposing additional sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran.”
Just in from the Treasury Department:
The U.S. Department of the Treasury identified the Islamic Republic of Iran as a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Section 311) based on Iran’s support for terrorism; pursuit of weapons of mass destruction (WMD); reliance on state-owned or controlled agencies to facilitate WMD proliferation; and the illicit and deceptive financial activities that Iranian financial institutions – including the Central Bank of Iran – and other state-controlled entities engage in to facilitate Iran’s illicit conduct and evade sanctions.
In issuing today’s Finding, Treasury has for the first time identified the entire Iranian financial sector; including Iran’s Central Bank, private Iranian banks, and branches, and subsidiaries of Iranian banks operating outside of Iran as posing illicit finance risks for the global financial system.
The Finding also creates a clear public record of the scope and depth of Iran’s illicit conduct, detailing the involvement of Iranian government agencies and banking institutions in WMD proliferation, support for terrorism, and other illicit conduct. In particular, the Finding includes new information about the Central Bank of Iran’s role in facilitating Iran’s illicit conduct and Iran’s efforts to evade international sanctions.
Today’s action reinforces U.S. and international sanctions already in place against Iran and provides greater certainty that the U.S. financial system is protected from Iranian illicit activity.
Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) also today filed a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), in which it proposes imposing a special measure against Iran. While current U.S. regulations already generally prohibit U.S. financial institutions from engaging in both direct and indirect transactions with Iranian financial institutions, this action would require U.S. financial institutions to implement additional due diligence measures in order to prevent any improper indirect access by Iranian banking institutions to U.S. correspondent accounts.
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