Economy, Business And Markets

Targets Added to Iran Sanctions List by US

Targets Added to Iran  Sanctions List by USTargets Added to Iran  Sanctions List by US

The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on nine new targets, saying the entities and people targeted had supported Iran's efforts to buy or acquire US currency, Reuters reported.

US Treasury Department officials said in a statement the latest move was part of an effort to enforce existing sanctions while the United States and other countries continue to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear energy program.

"Although we do not support the imposition of any new nuclear-related sanctions while negotiations are ongoing ... we have made clear, by word and deed, that we will continue to enforce our existing sanctions," Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen, said in a statement.

The newly named targets include five people and one entity for their role in helping the Iranian government avoid sanctions, according to the department.

They include: former Iranian citizen Hossein Zeidi and Iranian Seyed Kamal Yasini, who US officials said helped convert Iranian money into local currency and then into US dollars; Azizullah Asadullah Qulandary, an Afghanistan citizen who helped deliver those dollars to the Iranian government. Asadollah Seifi, Teymour Ameri and Dubai-based Belfast General Trading also delivered US currency to the Iranian government, according to Treasury officials.

Moscow based Asia Bank official Anahita Nasirbeik, an Iranian, also was designated for supporting the Central Bank of Iran or the Iranian government's efforts in acquiring or buying US bank notes, the statement said.

US officials also named two Iranian companies, Douran Software Technologies and Abyssec, for their role in supporting Iran's alleged violations pertaining to human rights, according to the department.

The Financial War

Iran is under the most stringent sanctions regime set by the United States, the European Union and the United Nations in a bid to restrain Tehran's nuclear energy program. It is currently negotiating with the six-member negotiating team known as the P5+1 to lift the sanctions by addressing their allegations. The P5+1 consists of the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia. The two sides reached an interim settlement in November 2013, and are currently negotiating a final deal.

The US, is the prime wielder of economic sanctions. It has restricted imports, exports, investments and other financial transactions on more than 110 occasions in the 20th century to try to change policies, end weapons programs or topple the government.

The US Treasury Department has become a prominent national security player since 2001. The department manages 37 sanctions programs, targeting governments, individuals, terrorist groups or criminal organizations in about 20 countries.

Penalties for Sanctions Breach

Meanwhile the justice department is the one keeping tabs on infringements.

The US Department of Justice is tightening the screws on banks that knowingly or unknowingly circumvent US and international sanctions. The settlements are highlighting the US prosecutors' intolerant stance on violators.

Recently it has put British lender Standard Chartered under new investigations. It is also negotiating over a settlement with German lender Commerzbank.  Adding to the long list of banks fined for breach of sanctions and other related financial violations.

The troubles of European banks started around 2007, as the US Justice Department turned its eye towards banks that financed and processed transactions from sanctioned countries, mainly Cuba, Iran and Sudan.

The increased scrutiny of foreign banks by US authorities has created tension with some European countries. One French official called the US’ case against BNP Paribas "economic warfare”.

Since 2009, over six foreign banks have settled law suits with US authorities for violating sanctions, mostly against Iran. Recently, BNP, the fourth largest bank in the world, arranged to pay a record breaking $8.9 billion after pleading guilty to falsifying business records and conspiracy, having violated US sanctions against Cuba, Iran, and Sudan.

The German Deutsche Bank AG, the largest foreign exchange dealer in the world, the French Societe Generale SA, British lender Standard Chartered Plc. and the Italian UniCredit SpA are among the banks still under investigation by US prosecutors for violating sanctions against various countries, based on company filings.

These banks are required to abide by US restrictions on business with Iran because they clear dollars in the US and are subject to oversight by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.