Action Strikes at One of Iran’s Few Remaining Access Points to the Global Financial System
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated Iran's third-largest bank, Bank Tejarat, for providing financial services to several Iranian banks and firms already subject to international sanctions for their involvement in Iran’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation activities. With today’s action, 23 Iranian-linked financial institutions, including all of Iran’s largest state-owned banks, have been sanctioned by the U.S. based on their involvement in Iran’s illicit activities.
“At a time when banks around the world are cutting off Iran and its currency is depreciating rapidly, today’s action against Bank Tejarat strikes at one of Iran’s few remaining access points to the international financial system,” said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, David S. Cohen. “Today’s sanction against Bank Tejarat will deepen Iran’s financial isolation, make its access to hard currency even more tenuous, and further impair Iran’s ability to finance its illicit nuclear program.”
Bank Tejarat was designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13382 (Blocking Property of WMD Proliferators and Their Supporters) for providing financial services to Bank Mellat, the Export Development Bank of Iran (EDBI), the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), and the Ministry of Defense for Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), all of which were previously designated by the the Treasury Department or the Department of State for their involvement in Iran’s WMD proliferation activities. Trade Capital Bank also was designated today for providing financial services to EDBI and for being owned or controlled by Bank Tejarat.
Today’s designations of Bank Tejarat and Trade Capital Bank could result in sanctions under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA) for foreign financial institutions that conduct business with Bank Tejarat or Trade Capital Bank. Under CISADA, foreign financial institutions that knowingly facilitate significant transactions or provide significant financial services for an Iranian-linked financial institution designated by the U.S. – such as Bank Tejarat or Trade Capital Bank – face the loss of their direct access to the U.S. financial system.
Bank Tejarat has nearly 2,000 branches throughout Iran, as well as foreign branches in Paris, France and Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Trade Capital Bank is a Minsk, Belarus-based bank that is owned by Bank Tejarat.
Bank Tejarat has directly facilitated Iran's illicit nuclear efforts. For example, in 2011, Bank Tejarat facilitated the movement of tens-of-millions of dollars in an effort to assist the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran's (AEOI) ongoing effort to acquire uranium. The AEOI, which reports directly to the Iranian president, is the main Iranian organization for research and development of nuclear technology, and manages fissile material production programs. In addition to being identified in the Annex to E.O. 13382, AEOI is sanctioned by the United Nations under Security Council Resolution 1737.
Bank Tejarat has repeatedly assisted U.S.-designated banks in circumventing international sanctions. In providing financial services to Bank Mellat and EDBI in the past few years, Bank Tejarat has also supported the activities of subsidiaries and subordinates of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Defense Industries Organization and MODAFL. Like Bank Tejarat, Trade Capital Bank facilitates Iranian access to the euro by bypassing European regulators.
Bank Tejarat has also provided banking services for IRISL and its U.S. designated affiliates Safiran Payam Darya Shipping Co., South Shipping Line Iran and Khazar Sea Shipping Lines. South Shipping Line was also designated for sanctions by the United Nations in UNSCR 1929.
To date, the U.S. has designated 23 Iranian-linked financial institutions under E.O. 13382 and E.O. 13224, as detailed in the fact sheet.