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U.S. Designates Iran’s Central Bank Chief as Terrorist for Support of Quds Force, Hezbollah

The United State Treasury Department has sanctioned the Central Bank of Iran and its head for their support of terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

This is the latest attempt by the Trump administration to disrupt Iran’s support for terrorism. Last week the Treasury Department announced that it had broken up a money laundering scheme, with help from the United Arab Emirates, that provided millions of dollars to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-Quds Force, which is in charge of the IRGC’s foreign operations.

In addition to sanctioning Iran’s Central Bank, the Treasury Department designated its governor, Valiollah Seif, who “covertly funneled millions of dollars” to Hezbollah for the IRGC through al-Bilad Islamic Bank in Iraq, as a global terrorist.

Also sanctioned was Ali Tarzali, another senior official at Iran’s Central Bank, and Aras Habib, chairman of the Al-Bilad Islamic Bank. Habib is a candidate on the list of current Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, in this past week’s elections.

“Iran’s Central Bank Governor covertly funneled millions of dollars on behalf of the IRGC-QF through Iraq-based al-Bilad Islamic Bank to enrich and support the violent and radical agenda of Hizballah. It is appalling, but not surprising, that Iran’s senior-most banking official would conspire with the IRGC-QF to facilitate funding of terror groups like Hizballah, and it undermines any credibility he could claim in protecting the integrity of the institution as a central bank governor,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement announcing the new sanctions. “The United States will not permit Iran’s increasingly brazen abuse of the international financial system. The global community must remain vigilant against Iran’s deceptive efforts to provide financial support to its terrorist proxies.”

While Iran has condemned the new sanctions, in 2015 Secretary of State John Kerry told a Senate hearing that the nuclear deal did not preclude the maintenance or imposition of non-nuclear sanctions on Iran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that recent U.S. decisions, including withdrawing from the nuclear deal and moving its embassy to Jerusalem, will lead to its “isolation” in the world.

Reuters reported that Iran is asking China not to cut its imports of Iranian oil in reaction to U.S. sanctions, but that it was unable “to secure guarantees from the world’s biggest consumer of Iranian oil.”

[Photo: Islamic Republic News Agency]