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Iranian Central Bank Targeted in U.S. Sanctions Over Tech Smuggling


Cental Bank of Iran
The Central Bank of Iran

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has sanctioned a procurement network involved in smuggling U.S. technology to the Central Bank of Iran (CBI). The press release from the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) indicates that this network facilitated the illegal export of goods and technology from numerous U.S. companies to end-users in Iran, including entities associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and Hezbollah.

The US Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson, emphasized the crucial role played by the Central Bank of Iran in providing financial support to destabilizing actors in the Middle East. The sanctions, targeting three individuals and four entities involved in procuring sophisticated U.S. technology for CBI in violation of export restrictions and sanctions, were imposed under the counterterrorism authority Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended. This action reinforces previous designations of the Central Bank of Iran, which was designated for its support to the IRGC-QF and Hezbollah.

The procurement network implicated in these sanctions includes entities such as the Iran-based Informatics Services Corporation (ISC) and the UAE-based Advance Banking Solution Trading DMCC (ABS). These entities, operating under the guise of legitimate business activities, surreptitiously acquired proprietary U.S. goods and technology from American companies, falsely claiming to be the ultimate end-users of the products. In reality, these items were destined for Iran, in direct contravention of U.S. export controls and sanctions.

Furthermore, the press release sheds light on the elaborate modus operandi employed by the network to conceal the true nature of their transactions. For instance, falsified End-User Certificates were utilized to facilitate the shipment of goods from the UAE to Iran, with the stated destination countries deliberately misrepresented to evade detection by U.S. authorities.

The sanctions have immediate implications, with all property and interests in property of the designated persons within the United States or under the control of U.S. persons being blocked and must be reported to OFAC. Financial institutions and other entities engaging in transactions with these sanctioned individuals and entities risk facing sanctions or enforcement actions.