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US issues sanctions on Iran-linked currency exchange network

President of Iran Hassan Rouhani in the Kremlin (The Kremlin)

The Trump administration sanctioned nine Iranian citizens and companies on Thursday for allegedly operating a currency exchange network that — with the help of Iran’s Central Bank — transferred millions of U.S. dollars to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force, the Treasury Department said.

The central bank “actively supported” the arrangement, which involved currency transfers from Iran to the United Arab Emirates, according to a Treasury statement issued Thursday evening. The U.A.E. joined the U.S. to disrupt the currency exchange network.

“Countries around the world must be vigilant against Iran’s efforts to exploit their financial institutions to exchange currency and fund the nefarious actors of the IRGC-QF and the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.

The action comes two days after President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. was pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions that were in place before the 2015 agreement. Beginning Aug. 7, the U.S. will impose sanctions on the purchase or acquisition of U.S. dollar banknotes by Iran’s government, the Treasury Department said.

“The Iranian regime and its Central Bank have abused access to entities in the UAE to acquire U.S. dollars to fund the IRGC-QF’s malign activities, including to fund and arm its regional proxy groups, by concealing the purpose for which the U.S. dollars were acquired,” Mnuchin said. “As I said following the president’s announcement on Tuesday, we are intent on cutting off IRGC revenue streams wherever their source and whatever their destination.”

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© 2018 Bloomberg News

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