(New York, N.Y.) – New evidence has been published that names the bank participants in an Iranian system of sanctions evasion first detailed by the Wall Street Journal in March 2022. According to a recent report, financial institutions in Turkey maintain clandestine and illegal ties with Shahr Bank, which is controlled by the Iranian regime and is designated by the U.S. Treasury Department. Some or all of the accounts maintained by these banks are denominated in U.S. dollars and involve transfers of tens of thousands of Euros originating with blacklisted Iranian firms, including the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). NIOC is a U.S- designated entity, well known for its support for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.
United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is seeking immediate clarification from three Turkish banks implicated in the report – QNB Finansbank (QNB), Vakif Katilim Bankasi A.S. (Vakif Katilim) and Türkiye Finans Katilim Bankasi A.S. (Türkiye Finans) regarding the relationship each has with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“The likelihood that Turkish institutions are undermining the U.S. and laundering money on behalf of the Islamic Republic warrants immediate attention by U.S. and Turkish Authorities and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF),” said UANI CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace. “International banks have been hit with $14 billion in fines since 2009 for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. It is imperative that all banks collaborating with the Islamic Republic face severe consequences and that money launderers are held to account.”
In its correspondence with the Turkish banks, UANI highlighted the reputational damage and attendant legal and financial consequences that come from doing business with Iran, one of only two countries in the world along with North Korea on the FATF’s “blacklist.” The IRGC-affiliated networks and foundations that answer to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called bonyads, control major swaths of the Iranian economy.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Iranian banks that serve companies barred by U.S. sanctions from exporting or importing engage affiliate firms in Iran to manage sanctioned trade on their behalf. Those firms establish companies outside of Iran’s borders to serve as proxies for the Iranian traders. The proxies trade with foreign purchasers of Iranian oil and other commodities, or sellers of goods for import into Iran, in dollars, euros or other foreign currencies, through accounts set up in foreign banks.”
To read UANI’s resource, Business Risk Matrix, please click here.
To read the letters UANI sent to the Turkish banks, please click here.