News Briefs

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
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 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 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
October 11, 2019
An Iranian state-owned tanker off the coast of Saudi Arabia was "probably" struck by missiles, according to the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC). The Sabiti was 96 km from the Saudi port of Jeddah when it was attacked. Iran's Foreign Ministry said that the tanker was hit twice, but did not specify what struck it.
-- Reuters
October 6, 2019
The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has pulled out of a $5 billion project to develop the South Pars gas field in Iran. According to CNPC officials, it has become increasingly difficult to handle payments because China's Bank of Kunlun, the primary vehicle for Iranian-Chinese business, no longer accepts trades with Iran. French petroleum company Total SA pulled out of the project last year in the wake of renewed U.S. sanctions. Iranian oil minister Bijan Zangeneh announced that Iran's Petropars Co. would take over full development of the gas field.
-- The Wall Street Journal

Pages