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United States adds head of Iran's central bank to terrorist list, imposes sanctions

16 May 2018

The new sanctions target Iranian, Syrian, and Iraqi nationals, including "the governor and a senior official of the Central Bank of Iran, an Iraq-based bank and its chairman, and a key [Hezbollah] official", who stand accused of moving "millions of dollars on behalf of the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force] and [Hezbollah]".

In the second move in a week taking aim at the money networks of the Revolutionary Guards, or IRGC, the US Treasury also blacklisted a second central bank official, Iraq's Al-Bilad Islamic Bank and its top two executives, and a liaison between IRGC and Hezbollah, which Washington has designated an worldwide terrorist group.

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The blacklisted head of Iraq's Al-Bilad Islamic Bank was named as Aras Habib, who ran in last weekend's general elections as a candidate on the slate of Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, whose government has been supported by the United States and the worldwide community. Half of Iran's lawmakers have written to President Hassan Rouhani demanding the removal of the central bank chief, accusing him of mismanaging the banking industry and currency markets as the rial weakened. Seif, whose role is equivalent to the Federal Reserve chairman in the US, oversees major financial decisions in Iran.

Tuesday's action seeks to cut off what the United States called a "critical" banking network for Iran, and deny those blacklisted access to the global financial system. "The worldwide neighborhood should stay vigilant towards Iran's misleading efforts to supply monetary help to its terrorist proxies".

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That deal, reached in 2015 and formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), sought to curb Iran's pursuit of a nuclear arsenal by providing significant sanctions relief for the country. US officials were reaching out Tuesday to central banks in other countries in the Middle East and Europe to inform them of the sanctions and encourage them to immediately freeze assets the bank has overseas. The sanctions concentrating on Iran's central financial institution executives are among the first actions by Trump's administration since pulling out of the deal to begin ramping up that financial strain. Most lately, the US has been involved concerning the position that Hezbollah fighters are taking part in in Syria to assist prop up President Bashar Assad. And in 2015, the USA focused the governor of Syria's central financial institution.

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United States adds head of Iran's central bank to terrorist list, imposes sanctions