A U.S. official's threat last month of economic sanctions against four Chinese banks is likely to be toothless given economic and enforcement hurdles, say sanctions analysts.
Additional banking and trade restrictions that target the finance and supply of Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs were passed by the U.N. Security Council Wednesday.
The U.S. government Wednesday blacklisted a fifth Iranian bank for allegedly helping the country build nuclear weapons, the latest move in escalating efforts to hem in Iran and convince Europe to follow suit.
Online transactions tied to sanctioned countries could lead to monetary fines for individuals, businesses and banks, even when it's unclear that the Web sites involved are blacklisted, say former OFAC officials and consultants.
The U.K. and the European Union will freeze the assets of Iran's largest bank, Bank Melli, over Iran's alleged plans to build a nuclear weapons program, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said today during a joint press conference with President George Bush.
The EU will "fully and effectively" implement United Nations economic sanctions aimed at preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and is ready to supplement current sanctions with "additional measures," according to a statement issued by EU officials.
A U.K. court of appeals said that the People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran should be removed from a British terror watch list.
The Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said Thursday that it is "particularly concern" that Iran's Bank Markazi is facilitating transactions for Iranian commercial banks that have been blacklisted by the United States.
The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Future Bank B.S.C. Wednesday for purportedly helping Iran and Bank Melli, an Iranian government owned bank also sanctioned by the United States, try to advance Iran's internationally condemned nuclear weapons program.
UK-based institutions Barclays PLC and Lloyds TSB Bank both said last month that they were being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department and the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control for possible violations of sanctions against state sponsors of terror.
The U.N. Security Council voted a third round of sanctions against Iran over its alleged ambitions to develop nuclear weapons. Fourteen of the 15 members of the Security Council supported a measure calling for tighter monitoring of Iranian financial institutions, travel bans, and cargo inspections.
As more mainstream banking channels are closed off to Iran, its businesses have turned to smaller, more obscure financial providers beyond the reach of U.S. jurisdiction and influence. That has resulted in higher compliance costs for financial institutions with a presence in the United States.
The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) said Thursday that the global financial community should regard transactions involving Iran, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Northern Cyprus and São Tomé and Príncipe as high risks for money laundering.
An international anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing watchdog is considering whether to take action against Iran for weaknesses identified in the country's AML laws.
The sanctions would call for increased international scrutiny of transactions with Iran's largest banks, including their international subsidiaries, and the freezing of assets of individuals tied to the country's purported nuclear weapons program.
Economic sanctions targeting Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons might not be achieving U.S. objectives and should be reconsidered, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in an audit report.
The designations require U.S. institutions to turn down business and freeze the assets of an Iranian military leader, two Shia extremist leaders and a former Iraqi Parliament member believed to be secretly operating a television station in Syria.
Economic sanctions against Iran have become particularly burdensome to American and European financial institutions because they require freezing, or blocking transactions for large, government controlled entities, compliance professionals say.
The sanctions are part of a "comprehensive" drive by the U.S. to increase pressure on Iran, said Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. That effort has been frustrated by the hesitation of the United Nations and international community in following the U.S.
The designation would officially block all or part of Iran's 125,000-strong Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country's elite military unit, from dealing with U.S. financial institutions.