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Noor Islamic Bank

Noor Islamic Bank

Industry: 
Banking
Country: 
UAE
Sources: 

"The effort was particularly sensitive because the targeted institution in the United Arab Emirates is partly owned by the local government of Dubai, a close U.S. ally. The chairman of the bank, called the Noor Islamic Bank, is the son of Dubai's ruler. In mid-December, Noor agreed to close off what the people briefed on the operation characterized as Iran's single-largest channel for repatriating foreign-currency oil receipts—facilitating as much as 60% of Iran's foreign oil sales by late last year, they estimated... The U.S. targeted Noor Islamic Bank because it had been returning oil profits to Tehran via entities that have been sanctioned by the U.S. and European Union, including banks Saderat and Melli, these people said. In the week after Noor cut off these transactions, the Iranian rial's value fell by around 12% in relation to the dollar in currency markets, from 13,700 rial to the dollar to more than 15,000, according to traders. Trade in bazaars dried up. Many Iranians rushed to foreign currency or gold in black-market deals, and the rial has continued to fall... But the press to shut down Noor's Iran transactions, which the U.S. government hasn't publicly disclosed, was a main trigger, according to the people familiar with the operation. 'Noor was one of the most important channels that Iran was using to get its oil revenues,' said a person briefed on Treasury's action. 'It was a huge node.' A spokesman for Noor Islamic Bank said: 'As a U.A.E. bank, we comply with all U.A.E. Central Bank directives and regulations. We are in close contact with our trading partners in those countries that have imposed sanctions and we do not foresee any difficulties going ahead.' Representatives for the bank and its controlling family declined further comment... Noor emerged as a major center for Iran's oil business only last year, as more and more global banks began cutting off their financial ties to Tehran, said the people familiar with the matter... Last winter and summer, Indian officials openly talked about using Noor Islamic Bank to process its oil purchases from Iran as these other avenues shut down. 'We are exploring if Indian oil firms can open accounts in banks like Dubai-based Noor Islamic Bank, so they can undertake a direct transfer of money for oil they buy from Iran,' a senior Indian official told the Press Trust of India last April. Noor brought U.S. focus onto the U.A.E., a federation of seven monarchies including Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which has emerged as perhaps the most important front line in the West's financial campaign against Iran... Toward the end of last year, Noor Islamic Bank—whose chairman is Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the Dubai ruler's son—risked the distinction of becoming the first foreign entity sanctioned under Mr. Obama's 2010 legislation. Around that time, U.S. Treasury officials detected Iran moving its energy transactions into Noor Islamic Bank, according to people briefed on the action. Treasury officials raised their concerns about Noor's activities, both directly with the bank as well as with Dubai and Abu Dhabi monetary authorities, these people said... 'The U.A.E. government took the concerns very seriously and was helpful in resolving' the Noor Islamic Bank case, said the official briefed on the operation.'" (Wall Street Journal, "U.S. Cuts Iran Cash Pipeline," 2/29/2012)

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