Iran General NewsBanks warned about Iranian finances

Banks warned about Iranian finances

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AP: The Bush administration issued a warning Tuesday to U.S banks that Iranian entities may try to skirt financial sanctions by using various “deceptive practices.” The Associated Press

By JEANNINE AVERSA

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Bush administration issued a warning Tuesday to U.S banks that Iranian entities may try to skirt financial sanctions by using various “deceptive practices.”

The advisory from the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, dubbed FinCen, represents the latest effort by the United States to maintain financial pressure on Iran.

The United States has accused the country of fostering terrorism. Iran’s nuclear ambitions have drawn international rebuke.

“Financial institutions should be particularly aware that there may be an increased effort by Iranian entities to circumvent international sanctions and related financial community scrutiny through the use of deceptive practices, involving shell companies and other intermediaries or requests that identifying information be removed from transactions,” FinCen said.

Under U.S. financial sanctions, virtually all trade and investment activities with the government of Iran — including government-owned banks — are prohibited.

Other sanctions have been imposed on Iranian entities that the United States believes are linked to terrorist activities and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

In FinCen’s warning to U.S. banks, the agency said that any Iranian efforts to circumvent existing financial sanctions could “originate in Iran or Iranian free-trade zones subject to separate regulatory and supervisory controls, including Kish Island. Such efforts may also originate wholly outside of Iran at the request of Iranian-controlled entities,” FinCen said.

Last week, a Paris-based international financial watchdog raised worries about Iran’s lack of comprehensive measures to fight money laundering and terror financing.

The Financial Action Task Force said Iran’s deficiencies posed a “significant vulnerability” within the international financial system.

Against this backdrop, FinCen said it issued Tuesday’s advisory to U.S. financial institutions “so that they may guard against threats of illicit Iranian activity related to money laundering, terrorist financing and weapons of mass destruction proliferation financing.”

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