US Treasury Identifies Channels Iran Has Used to Circumvent Sanctions



Shahir Shahidsaless | Atlantic Council

On November 5th, Ahmad Amirabadi, a member of the Iranian parliamentary board of directors, posted an exasperated tweet: “Almost all the individuals and entities that were active in bypassing the previous [US] sanctions [during the Obama administration] are included [in the new list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons]. The question is, how this information has fallen in enemy’s hands. The security forces should investigate.” According to the US Treasury Department, “over 700 [new] persons [and entities] have been designated or identified and added” to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List. A statement made in June by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also confirms that the US government has been able to obtain information about the mechanisms and channels used by Iranians to get around the Obama-era sanctions. “America has discovered the breathing canal we utilized [when we were under sanctions]. Even if they didn’t have enough information at the time, they were able to gather the information they lacked after they arrested [Reza] Zarrab and [Ali Sadr] Hashemi Nejad,” Zarif remarked. Reza Zarrab, an Iranian gold trader, orchestrated the largest sanctions-evasion scheme in modern history by utilizing Halkbank, the Turkish state bank. During his trial, Zarrab sketched an elaborate flow chart that detailed how Iran was able to bypass US sanctions. His scheme reportedly allowed $13 billion dollars to flow into Iran between March 2012 and July 2013. Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad, the owner of the Maltese Pilatus Bank who was arrested in March in a Virginia airport, was also involved in efforts to evade US sanctions on Iran. He allegedly conspired to funnel millions of dollars through the US financial system under a Venezuelan construction contract. According to a Manhattan-based US Attorney, “Nejad created a network of front companies and foreign bank accounts to mask Iranian business dealings in Venezuela and evade US sanctions.”

To read the full article, click here.