Head of Iran’s Central Bank Hit With Terror Sanctions
- The head of Iran’s central bank declared a terrorist
The United States designated the head of Iran’s central bank as a terrorist and barred anyone around the world from doing business with him, escalating financial pressure on Iran.
Valiollah Seif, the Governor of the Iranian central bank, was named a “specially designated global terrorist.”
The US Treasury Department accused the men of secretly funneling millions of dollars through an Iraqi bank to help Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militant network that the US considers a terrorist group.
The sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank executives are some of the first actions by President Trump’s Administration since pulling out of the deal to start ramping up that economic pressure.
“The United States will not permit Iran’s increasingly brazen abuse of the international financial system,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. “The global community must remain vigilant against Iran’s deceptive efforts to provide financial support to its terrorist proxies.”
The US said that the sanctions did not extend to Iran’s central bank itself, but they could significantly increase Iran’s isolation from the global financial system.
The sanctions means that anyone, in any country, who does business with Mr. Seif could themselves be punished with sanctions, cutting them off from the US financial system.
Mr. Seif, as the central bank’s governor, has helped guide Iran’s economy through the web of sanctions in place on that country. In the aftermath of the Y 2015 deal, in which nuclear sanctions on Iran were lifted, Mr. Seid was a prominent voice complaining that Iran was still being kept out of the global financial system and not receiving the economic benefits it was promised in exchange for curtailing its nuclear program.
Treasury said that Mr. Seif undermined the central bank’s credibility by routing millions of dollars from the Quds Force, the expeditionary unit of Iran’s hard-line Revolutionary Guards, to al-Bilad Islamic Bank, which is based in Iraq. Those funds were then used to “enrich and support the violent and radical agenda of Hezbollah.”
Al-Bilad Islamic Bank and its CEO and chairman, Aras Habib, were also hit with US sanctions, as was Muhammad Qasir, who the Treasury said is a Hezbollah official who has been a “critical conduit” for transferring funds to Hezbollah from the Revolutionary Guards.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the powerful Shiite guerrilla force that is also a prominent political player in Lebanon, has long helped carry out Iran’s foreign policy objectives in the Arabic-speaking world.
Recently, the US has been concerned about the role that Hezbollah fighters are playing in Syria to help prop up President Bashar Assad.
Hezbollah fought a war with Israel in Y 2006, and Israeli officials have been deeply concerned about the prospect of another confrontation.
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