(New York, N.Y.) — In furtherance of its correspondence with Turkish banks suspected of participating in an Iranian sanctions-evasion scheme worth billions of dollars in illicit trade and first detailed by the Wall Street Journal, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) has contacted six Chinese banks, including the state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), to inquire about the nature of their relationship with the Iranian regime and call upon each to cut ties with Tehran.
Each of the banks contacted is suspected of holding accounts denominated in U.S. dollars that are ultimately controlled by Iranian firms and banking institutions sanctioned by the United States, including Iranian regime-controlled Shahr Bank and Parsian Bank. In a March 24, 2022 episode of The Journal. podcast, “Iran’s Secret System to Avoid Sanctions”, journalist Ian Talley observed that “the Iranian banks knew it was possible to connect to the financial system by using companies that were basically proxy companies for Iranian companies that were set up overseas [by the Iranian government]…”
Parsian Bank was accused by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2018 of financing business supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Basij paramilitary reserve force. The Basij has two missions: giving military training to regime supporters and helping suppress domestic opposition to the regime through street violence and intimidation. It has overseen state-sanctioned domestic abuses since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979.
So far, only Zhejiang Mintai Commercial Bank Co. Ltd. has responded, stating it never sought to “do any business in Iran” and that “any business and settlement related to Iran is forbidden.” Representatives from ICBC, China Guangfa Bank, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, Zhejiang Tailong Commercial Bank Co. Ltd., and Zhejiang Chouzhou Commercial Bank have yet to respond.
“Conducting business with any U.S.-sanctioned Iranian entity makes these financial institutions directly complicit in the activities of the regime and its proxies,” said UANI CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace. “China has thumbed its nose at U.S. sanctions against Iran for years. The lack of a firm response in combination with the warm and abiding ties between Tehran and the Chinese Communist Party has given Chinese financial institutions confidence that there is no consequence for aiding the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. The U.S. must investigate and disavow them of this notion.”
In its communication with the six Chinese banks, UANI has outlined the reputational, legal, and financial importance of cutting all ties with Iranian firms and proxy entities and strongly urged the institutions to cease all related business operations. In continuing to associate with Iranian firms and banking institutions, each bank will remain vulnerable to the many risks associated with conducting business with the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism.
To read UANI’s resource Business Risk Matrix, please click here.
To read UANI’s resource Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), please click here.
To read the letters UANI sent to the Chinese banks, please click here.