US Treasury sanctions Iran, Iraq bank officials for moving millions for Quds Force to Hezbollah
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Tuesday imposed sanctions on the Governor of the Central Bank of Iran, an Iraq-based bank and its chairman, and a key Hezbollah official who are accused of moving millions of dollars for the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force to Hezbollah.
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.
According to the Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, Iran’s Central Bank Governor Valiollah Seif “covertly funneled millions of dollars” on behalf of the Quds Force through an Iraqi-based bank, the al-Bilad Islamic Bank, “to enrich and support the violent and radical agenda of Hezbollah.”
“It is appalling, but not surprising, that Iran’s senior-most banking official would conspire with the [IRGC’s Quds Force] to facilitate funding of terror groups like Hezbollah,” Mnuchin said, in a press release published by the US Department of the Treasury.
“The United States will not permit Iran’s increasingly brazen abuse of the international financial system,” Mnuchin added, urging the global community to “remain vigilant against Iran’s deceptive efforts to provide financial support to its terrorist proxies.”
Iran has supported Lebanese-based Hezbollah’s involvement in the years-long conflict in Syria.
The Treasury noted that its sanctions on Seif followed US President Donald Trump’s decision on May 8 to end America’s participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a deal signed between Iran and world powers meant to curb Tehran’s nuclear activities.
Another member of the Central bank of Iran, assistant director of the International Department Ali Tarzali, was also designated by the Treasury for assisting Hezbollah to send funds through the Iraq-based al-Bilad Islamic Bank.
Although Seif and Tarzali’s designations do not extend to the Central Bank of Iran, Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA means the US will “re-impose sanctions that extend to certain transactions” with the bank, the Treasury said, which include “sanctions on the purchase or acquisition of US dollars banknotes by the Government of Iran.”
Chairman and Chief Executive of al-Bilad Aras Habib was also sanctioned “for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of” the IRGC’s Quds Force.
According to the Treasury, Habib enabled the Quds Force to exploit Iraq’s banking sector and move funds from Tehran to Hezbollah.
Meanwhile, the Hezbollah official designated by the OFAC was named as Muhammad Qasir who is accused of “acting for or on behalf of Hezbollah.”
“Qasir acted as a critical conduit for financial disbursements” from the Quds Force to Hezbollah where he helped “to transfer funds.”