U.S. Treasury Blocks Banks Dealing With Iran

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The U.S. Treasury Department disrupted a Dubai-based banking operation that the Federal Government believes had become Tehran’s primary channel for evading international sanctions and processing its oil sales, according to a source who was briefed on the operation, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to the news outlet, the effort to circumvent the sanctions was particularly sensitive because the institution-in-question in the United Arab Emirates is partly owned by the local government of Dubai, an ally of the U.S. The chairman of the bank, known as the Noor Islamic Bank, is the son of the ruler of the emirate.

The Journal reported that Noor, in mid-December, agreed to close off what the people briefed on the operation characterized as Iran’s single-biggest channel for repatriating foreign-currency receipts for oil purchases. According to estimations, this counted for as much as 60 percent of the Middle Eastern nation’s foreign oil sales by late 2011.

Reuters reported that the U.S. Treasury said banks who are involved with Iran “risk losing their correspondent account access to U.S. financial institutions,” according to David Cohen, the Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

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