Economy |

US announces new sanctions on Iran central bank

By AFP

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Iranians withdraw money from an ATM machine outside a bank in Tehran on April 24th. [Atta Kenare/AFP]

US President Donald Trump on Friday (September 20th) announced new sanctions on Iran's central bank and other financial entities, calling the measures the "highest" sanctions ever imposed on a foreign country by the US.

"These are the highest sanctions ever imposed on a country," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

Trump earlier this week announced what he said would be substantial new sanctions against Iran, in response to what US officials and others say was likely Iranian involvement in an attack on Saudi oil facilities.

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A picture taken on April 23rd shows Iranian bank notes in a charity box in the centre of Tehran. [Atta Kenare/AFP]

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control on Friday announced sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), the National Development Fund of Iran (NDF), and Etemad Tejarate Pars Co.

Iran’s Central Bank has provided billions of dollars to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), its Quds Force (IRGC-QF) and its proxy, Hizbullah, the Treasury said in a Friday statement.

Iran’s NDF, which is Iran’s sovereign wealth fund and whose board of trustees include Iran’s president, oil minister and Central Bank governor, has been a major source of foreign currency and funding for the IRGC-QF and Iran’s Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), the Treasury said.

Etemad Tejarate Pars is an Iran-based company that is used to conceal financial transfers for MODAFL’s military purchases, including funds originating from the NDF, the Treasury said.

'Maximum pressure campaign will continue'

"Iran’s brazen attack against Saudi Arabia is unacceptable," said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement announcing the sanctions.

"Treasury’s action targets a crucial funding mechanism that the Iranian regime uses to support its terrorist network, including the Quds Force, Hizbullah, and other militants that spread terror and destabilise the region," he said.

"The US will continue its maximum pressure campaign against Iran’s repressive regime, which attempts to achieve its revolutionary agenda through regional aggression while squandering the country’s oil proceeds," Mnuchin said.

"Iran’s Central Bank and the National Development Fund were ostensibly intended to safeguard the welfare of the Iranian people, but have been used instead by this corrupt regime to move Iran’s foreign currency reserves for terrorist proxies," he added.

"We are putting governments on notice that they are risking the integrity of their financial systems by continuing to work with the Iranian regime’s arm of terror finance, its Central Bank," said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

"We will vigorously enforce our sanctions to cut off the Iranian regime's funding of global terrorism and its domestic oppression of the Iranian people, who are the regime’s longest suffering victims," Mandelker said.

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