Analysis by PMOI/MEK
July 13, 2018 - The United States and the United Arab Emirates have busted a network funneling illicit funds to the Iranian regime, according to a senior U.S. official on Thursday, as Washington escalates its measures to limit Iranian trade and access to hard currency throughout the Middle East.
“We jointly disrupted a currency exchange network that was transferring millions of dollars to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force,” said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the U.S. Treasury, according to Reuters.
Sigal emphasized the network was dismantled in May. Currency exchanges were using the UAE financial system to transfer cash out of Iran and convert it into U.S. dollars to be sued by Iranian regime-supported proxy groups in the region, she said.
Directed by senior Iranian regime central bank officials, the network is known to have forged documents and disguised its dealings behind front and shell companies, according to Mandelker’s remarks to reporters.
No further details were provided on this operation.
The UAE central bank announced in early June measures to restrict the operations of seven currency exchange houses for violations of anti-money laundering and other regulations. The violations were unspecified at the time.
As always, the Iranian regime is denouncing the U.S. drive targeting its malign financial activities, claiming they’re unjustified interference in its internal affairs.
Mandelker, visiting the UAE after stops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, aims to gain support for the U.S. effort to pressure the Iranian regime. This particular drive is witnessed following U.S. President Donald Trump’s to pull out of the highly criticized and suspicious Iran nuclear deal and to reimpose sanctions on Tehran’s mullahs.
Gulf governments and financial institutions are cooperating closely with the United States because they share viewpoints regarding Tehran’s malign regional influence, she added.
Washington is in the effort to constrict Iran’s trade in general, going further than its oil and gas sales that provide for over half of its export revenue, Mandelker continued.
Washington may bump into some roadblocks in the drive to impose a sharp reduction of Iranian regime business with the UAE. Dubai has been known to host exports to Iran and been the beneficiary of Iranian investment in its businesses and real estate market.
UAE exports to Iran reached $19.9 billion in 2017, calculating to around 5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to International Monetary Fund data.
Asked on this subject, Mandelker said Washington enjoys an “excellent partnership” with the UAE. “There’s no question in my mind that working together, we can take significant action (against Iran) to disrupt their ability to fund themselves,” she added.