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US sanctions Revolutionary Guard support network

March 26, 2019

Washington has blacklisted more than 20 banks, businesses and individuals in the region for funding Iran's elite forces. US officials have described "deceptive practices" aimed at exploiting the global financial system.

An Iranian woman holds an Iranian flag during a rally
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/E. Noroozi

The US Treasury on Tuesday imposed new sanctions on a network of banks, companies and individuals spanning across Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for illegally transferring billions of dollars and euros in cash to Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

Washington has increased pressure on Iranian actors and supporters in a bid to stem what it describes as the world's premier state sponsor of terrorism.

Read more: US policy spreads gloom in Iran

What we know so far:

  • Twenty-five businesses and individuals were targeted
  • The entities were "front companies" for Revolutionary Guard-linked banks and foreign currency exchanges
  • The network had moved more than $1 billion (€890 million) for the Iranian regime
  • The Revolutionary Guard, Defense Ministry and the Armed Forces logistics brand benefited from the transactions

Read more: Iran's military power: What you need to know 

'Deceptive practices'

The US Treasury tweeted that it had disrupted a "large scale front company network," with a graphic showing how the sanctioned entities operated.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said: "We are targeting a vast network of front companies and individuals located in Iran, Turkey and the UAE to disrupt a scheme the Iranian regime has used to illicitly move more than a billion dollars in funds."

Sigal Mandelker, who serves as US Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said: "This vast network is just the latest example of the Iranian regime's use of deceptive practices to exploit the global financial system and divert resources to sanctioned entities."

Read more: Opinion: EU taking a stand through legal trading with Iran 

US pushes to isolate Iran

The US has repeatedly pressured Iran's security apparatus and elite forces with sanctions in the hopes of deterring their ability to commit attacks on foreign soil. Israel and Saudi Arabia have been key partners in US attempts at isolating Iran at the international level.

Since US President Donald Trump withdrew American support for the Iran nuclear deal, Washington has pressured its European allies to do the same to further isolate Tehran. But the EU has resisted, arguing that the Iranian government has continued to follow the agreement.

However, that hasn't stopped Brussels from imposing sanctions against Iran's Intelligence and Security Ministry, along with two Iranian agents, for thwarted assassination attempts on European soil.

Read more: Angela Merkel: Israel has 'right' to defend itself against Iran in Syria

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When sanctions threaten people's health

ls/jm (Reuters, AFP)