News Briefs

October 30, 2019
Iranians in Malaysia are facing "mass closures" of their bank accounts. In recent months, Malaysian banks, including CIMB and RHB, have ended services to many of the estimated 10,000 Iranians living in Malaysia. The banks did not give an official reason for the closures, but bank officials told some affected individuals that the move was prompted by increased scrutiny related to U.S. sanctions.
-- Reuters
October 29, 2019
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) picked Argentine diplomat Rafael Grossi to become its next director general. Grossi, 58, was selected in the third round of voting against IAEA acting director general Cornel Feruta. He previously served as the chief of cabinet to former IAEA head Yukiya Amano and as a senior official at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) before becoming Argentina's ambassador to U.N. institutions in Vienna. Grossi also recently led an international review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Backed by the United States, Grossi pledged to strictly monitor Iran's nuclear activities. He is expected to begin a four-year term by January 1, 2020.
-- The Wall Street Journal
October 25, 2019
The United States declared Iran to be a "jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern" and announced new due diligence requirements for banks and for humanitarian trade. The new policy requires U.S. banks to scrutinize foreign business relationships and identity any dealings with Iran. The United States also created a new channel for humanitarian trade with Iran that requires detailed transaction records and allows asset seizure in the case of sanctions violations. The money laundering designation is based on accusations that the Iranian government is financing U.S.-designated terrorist groups.
-- The Wall Street Journal
October 24, 2019
A U.S. national in Ohio was sentenced to 20 months in prison for supplying oil and gas equipment to Iran in violation of sanctions. Behrooz Behroozian, 64, used a Dublin computer parts business to export manifolds, valves, and connectors used in industrial gas and oil pipelines to Iran via the United Arab Emirates for more than a dozen years. Behroozian, who was born in Iran and moved to the United States in 1976, was charged in 2016 and admitted to violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).
-- The Columbus Dispatch
October 23, 2019
Albanian police announced that they have discovered an Iranian paramilitary network targeting exiled members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an opposition Iranian group seeking to overthrow Iran's government. Police chief Ardi Veliu said that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was operating an "active terrorist cell," adding that the network had ties to organized crime groups in Turkey and was fed information by a former MEK member. He also claimed that Albanian authorities stopped a planned Iranian attack in March. Approximately 2,500 MEK members moved to Albania from Iran in 2014.
-- Associated Press
October 18, 2019
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) increased pressure on Iran to meet its anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing rules, calling for countries to enact enhanced processes on reporting financial transactions and audit requirements of financial institutions with branches or subsidiaries in Iran. FATF also extended a deadline to February 2020 for Iran to adopt certain measures before additional restrictions will be implemented.
-- The Wall Street Journal
October 16, 2019
The United States conducted a secret cyber strike against Iran following September 14 attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. The strike targeted physical hardware related to Iran's ability to spread "propaganda," according to U.S. officials.
-- Reuters
October 15, 2019
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that Iran's economy is expected to shrink by 9.5% this year. The estimate, which was published in the IMF's World Economic Outlook report, is similar to World Bank calculations which indicate that by the end of 2019, Iran's economy will be 90% of its size from two years ago. The IMF added that Iran continues to experience "very severe macroeconomic distress," including an estimated inflation rate of 35.7% for this year.
-- Reuters
October 15, 2019
U.S. prosecutors charged Turkey's state-owned Halkbank in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade sanctions on Iran. The scheme used front companies in gold, food, and medicine transactions, and allegedly involved bribes to Turkish officials. The Halkbank indictment is the latest step in an investigation that first became public with the 2016 arrest of Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian businessman who subsequently pleaded guilty. In 2017, Halkbank deputy manager Mehmet Hakan Atilla was convicted and sentenced to 32 months in prison.
-- Reuters
October 11, 2019
The United States will deploy 1,800 additional troops in Saudi Arabia in an effort to deter Iranian aggression in the Middle East. The additions will include two fighter squadrons, two Patriot missile batteries, a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, and an aviation headquarters unit.
-- The Washington Post