The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has sanctioned the Central Bank of Iran and National Development Fund of Iran in retaliation for Iran’s alleged involvement in multiple drone-operated missile strikes against several Saudi Arabian oil facilities on Sept. 14.
Also sanctioned is Iran-based company Etemad Tejarate Pars, which OFAC called a shell for concealing military purchases for Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics.
Iran has denied any involvement in the missile attacks, for which the Iran-backed Houthis group in Yemen claimed responsibility. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia said they have collected evidence from the attacks that point to Iran.
“Treasury’s action targets a crucial funding mechanism that the Iranian regime uses to support its terrorist network, including the Qods Force, Hizballah, and other militants that spread terror and destabilize the region,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a Sept. 20 statement.
“Iran’s Central Bank and the National Development Fund were ostensibly intended to safeguard the welfare of the Iranian people, but have been used instead by this corrupt regime to move Iran’s foreign currency reserves for terrorist proxies,” he added.
Specifically, the Treasury Department said the banks have been used to funnel “billions of dollars” in the past three years to fund the already sanctioned Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and terrorist group Hezbollah.
The Treasury Department said despite its purpose to serve the welfare of the Iranian people by investing in commercial oil and gas production, the National Development Fund has instead been used as a “slush fund” for the IRGC.
The three Iranian entities have been placed on OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List.
OFAC said any property or interests in property of these sanctioned entities that are in the U.S. or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are now blocked. The agency’s regulations generally prohibit any business dealings by U.S. persons or organizations with listed entities and individuals.
President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the multilateral Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal, in May 2018 and proceeded with unilateral sanctions against Iran.
However, the U.S. continues a policy of allowing for the sale of agricultural commodities, food, medicine and medical devices to Iran. OFAC said it will “consider requests related to humanitarian trade with Iran as appropriate.”