ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Central Bank of Iraq on Wednesday decided to stop dealing with Iraq-based al-Bilad Islamic Bank one day after it was accused of financing terrorism by the US Treasury Department.
A statement issued by the Central Bank, which implements Iraq's monetary policy, ordered financial institutions and currency transfer companies in the country to stop dealing with al-Bilad immediately.
“In view of the inclusion of al-Bilad Islamic Bank and its Chairman,” Aras Habib Kareem, to the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) list, the Central Bank decided to take precautionary measures “in order to preserve the integrity of the financial and banking system in Iraq.”
The first measure is “to stop the [al-Bilad] bank from selling and buying foreign currencies.”
The Central Bank also ordered the seizure of any bank accounts of Kareem, also a candidate in Saturday's national parliamentary election. He is successor to Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi as head of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) party.
The statement called for a hold to be put "on the circulation of shares of the bank and the shares registered in the name of the Chairman of the Board of Directors.”
On Tuesday, the Treasury Department charged that those involved in the scheme were being sanctioned “for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of” Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force.
The IRGC’s Quds Force was labeled as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) on Oct. 25, 2007, and the IRGC itself also designated on Oct. 13, 2017.
On Wednesday, Kareem, who ran in the election allied with Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi's Victory Coalition, denied the charges appeared to claim the actions were politically-motivated.
“After it became apparent that [I] had won a seat in parliament, some parties started to raise issues here and issues there,” said a statement released on his personal website.
Editing by John J. Catherine