US slaps sanctions on Iran bank

October 22, 2008 8:22:21 AM PDT
The Bush administration on Wednesday imposed financial sanctions on an Iranian state-owned financial institution for allegedly providing financial services in support of the country's weapons program.The Treasury Department's action means that any bank accounts or other financial assets belonging to the Export Development Bank of Iran that are found in the United States are frozen. Americans also are prohibited from doing business with the bank.

The government contends the bank provided financial services to Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, which controls Iran's ballistic missile research, development and production activities. The United States also alleges that Iran was using the bank to evade international sanctions.

"Iran has adopted a strategy of using less prominent institutions, such as the Export Development Bank of Iran, to handle its illicit transactions," said Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

Wednesday's action exposes the export development bank's role "in helping Iran violate U.N. sanctions so that financial institutions around the world can take appropriate steps to protect themselves," Levey added.

Treasury on Wednesday also took action against three entities that the United States believes are owned, controlled or acting on behalf of the Export Development Bank of Iran. They are the EDBI Stock Brokerage Co. and EDBI Exchange Co., both in Tehran, and Banco Internacional De Desarollo in Venezuela.

The U.S. government alleged that the Export Development Bank of Iran provides financial services to multiple entities connected to Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics. That has enabled those entities to "advance Iran's WMD (weapons of mass destruction) programs," Treasury said. It also alleged that the bank "facilitated the ongoing procurement of various front companies" associated with the entities connected to Iran's weapons agency.

The step marks the latest effort to tighten the financial noose on Iran, which the United States accuses of bankrolling terrorism and seeking a nuclear bomb. The United States has already imposed sanctions on several state-run Iranian banks and businesses along with elements of its defense ministry and Revolutionary Guards Corps.

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