US sanctions Iran central bank governor for terrorist support

ImageValiollah Seif the governor of Iran's central bank at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington D.C.

ImageValiollah Seif the governor of Iran's central bank at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington D.C.

The US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Iran's central bank governor and another senior official in the bank on Tuesday, for allegedly providing support for terrorist activities.

In the second move in a week taking aim at the money networks of the Revolutionary Guards, or IRGC, the US Treasury also blacklisted another senior official, Ali Tarzali, who works in the central bank's worldwide division.

The exact ramifications of the sanctions for Iran's economy were not immediately clear.

The department noted that sanctions did not extend to Iran's central bank but would affect certain transactions by Iran, including those involving United States dollars.

The new sanctions are part of the administration's efforts to address Tehran's "malign influence" in the region, an effort that, in conjunction with President Donald Trump's decision to remove the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal and Monday's controversial opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, has led to a spike in tensions across the Middle East.

The statement said the designations "do not extend" to the Central Bank of Iran.

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It said Habib had a history of smuggling money to Iranian-backed Iraqi groups and "enabled the IRGC-QF's exploitation of Iraq's banking sector to move funds from Tehran to Hezbollah, jeopardizing the integrity of the Iraqi financial system".

On Thursday, the Treasury announced sanctions against a "large-scale" currency exchange network serving the Revolutionary Guards, hitting six individuals and three companies at the centre of the network.

Since leaving the deal, the Trump administration's plan has been to reimpose the sanctions lifted under the deal while also imposing secondary sanctions against countries that choose to trade with Iran.

The European members of the deal - France, the United Kingdom and Germany - are trying to keep it alive without the U.S. Yet it's unclear that will be workable, because Trump has vowed to punish European companies that continue doing business with Iran despite re-imposed U.S. sanctions.

The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions against the head of the Central Bank of Iran, Valiulla Seif, reported on the Agency's website. The sanctions targeting Iran's central bank executives are some of the first actions by Trump's administration since pulling out of the deal to start ramping up that economic pressure. It accused him of helping the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in transferring millions of dollars to Lebanon's "Hezbollah" group.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday Seif covertly moved millions of dollars on behalf of the IRGC through Al-Bilad bank "to enrich and support the violent and radical agenda of Hezbollah". Most lately, the US has been involved concerning the position that Hezbollah fighters are taking part in in Syria to assist prop up President Bashar Assad.

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