Action Designates Financial
Institutions Involved in Providing Foreign Currency Exchange for the Iranian
WASHINGTON – The U.S.
Department of the Treasury designated an exchange house and a trading company
today for aiding Iranian attempts to circumvent international economic
sanctions. Al Hilal Exchange and Al Fida
International General Trading, which are based in the United Arab Emirates, were
designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13382 for providing financial
services to previously designated Iranian banks. They have been used by Iran in
an attempt to maintain access to foreign currency exchange.
“As Iran’s access to the international banking sector comes
under increasing pressure, we have seen it turn increasingly to exchange houses
and trading companies in its attempts to evade international sanctions and maintain
its access to foreign exchange,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and
Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. “We
have warned the financial community about the risks posed by Iran’s use of
exchange houses and trading companies to evade sanctions, and today’s action
makes clear that we will impose sanctions against non-bank financial
institutions that facilitate Iran’s illicit conduct. We will continue to work with our partners in
the UAE and around the world to increase pressure on the Iranian regime as it
fails to address well founded concerns about its nuclear program.”
Both Al Hilal Exchange and Al Fida International General
Trading are being designated today pursuant to E.O. 13382 for their role in
providing financial services to Bank Mellat, a designated Iranian bank directly
involved with the Iranian nuclear program.
Al Hilal Exchange, an exchange house based in Dubai, UAE,
offers services related to remittances, currency exchange and credit card
services. During a three-month span in
early 2012, Al Hilal Exchange provided foreign currency exchange services worth
more than $55 million to Bank Mellat. Al
Hilal Exchange is also being designated for providing financial services to
Bank Melli, specifically currency exchange services. Treasury previously designated Bank Melli for
its financial services for the Atomic Energy Association of Iran and the
Iranian Ministry of Defense for Armed Forces Logistics in 2007.
The Central Bank of the UAE recently took action against Al
Hilal Exchange, revoking its license on May 8, 2013 for major regulatory and
anti-money laundering compliance violations.
The U.S. Government welcomes this action taken by the Government of the
UAE and commends the UAE for taking action to combat the risks posed to the UAE
and international financial system by the illicit financial operations of this
exchange house. We look forward to
further opportunities to collaborate with the UAE on combating illicit finance.
Al Fida International General Trading, also located in
Dubai, collaborated with Al Hilal Exchange to provide Bank Mellat with access
to foreign currency. Bank Mellat
transferred currency to Al Hilal Exchange through an Al Fida General Trading account
in an attempt to obscure the origins of the funds.
U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any
transactions with the entities designated today, and any assets of those
entities subject to U.S. jurisdiction are frozen. Additionally, today’s designations under E.O.
13382 carry consequences under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions,
Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA). Foreign financial institutions that knowingly
facilitate significant transactions or provide significant financial services for
these sanctioned entities or individual are exposed to potential loss of access
to the U.S. financial system.
Please note, Al Hilal Exchange, one of the entities being
designated today, is separate and distinct from Al Hilal Bank, which is also
based in the UAE. Today’s sanctions are
not imposed on Al Hilal Bank.
For guidance on the risks posed by Iran’s use of exchange
houses and trading companies, see the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s
January 10, 2013 release
on “The Use of Exchange Houses and Trading Companies to Evade U.S. Economic
Sanctions Against Iran.”
Name: Al Hilal Exchange
Address: P.O. Box
28774, Shop #9 & 10 Ground Floor, Emirates Concorde Hotel, Al-Maktoum Road,
Deira Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Alt. Address: Emirates Concorde Hotel & Residence,
Almaktoum Street, P.O. Box 28774, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Name: Al Fida International
Address: P.O. Box:
28774, Office Tower 16th Floor Flat 1065, Emirates Concorde Hotel, Dubai,
United Arab Emirates