The United States Department of the Treasury on Monday announced that it identified an Iraqi bank as an institution of “primary money laundering concerns,” and sanctioned its owner over support to Iran-backed militia groups and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The US Treasury said in a statement that it is issuing a “finding and notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM)” which identifies al-Huda Bank, headquartered in Baghdad, “as a foreign financial institution of primary money laundering concern.”
“The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) proposed a rule that would sever the bank from the U.S. financial system by prohibiting domestic financial institutions and agencies from opening or maintaining a correspondent account for or on behalf of Al-Huda Bank,” continued the statement.
The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) also imposed sanctions on the bank’s owner Hamad al-Moussawi.
Moussawi was designated for “his support to the IRGC-QF [Quds Force], including through support for its proxy militia groups in Iraq,” according to the statement, which stressed that al-Huda Bank has “exploited its access to U.S. dollars to support foreign terrorist groups, including the IRGC-QF and Kata’ib Hizballah.”
Moussawi is the secretary general of Iraq’s Civil Party, and a member of the Economy, Industry, and Commerce Committee of the Iraqi parliament. He had previously run for parliament under the former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law list.
FinCEN Director Andrea Gacki stated that “Evidence available to FinCEN has demonstrated that Al-Huda Bank served as a significant conduit for the financing of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.”
The US Treasury claimed that al-Huda Bank has been “controlled and operated” by the IRGC and the IRGC’s Quds Force, noting that “after establishing the bank, the Al-Huda Bank chairman began money laundering operations on behalf of the IRGC-QF and Kata’ib Hizballah.”
“Since its inception, Al-Huda Bank has used forged documents to execute at least $6 billion in wire transfers out of Iraq,” according to the US Treasury’s statement.
Last week the US Treasury sanctioned Iraqi airline Fly Baghdad and three members of Kataib Hezbollah, including an Iraqi parliament member for providing assistance to IRGC.
As a result of Monday’s sanctions, all property and interests of property of the sanctioned individual “that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons” are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. Furthermore, any organizations owned, whether directly or indirectly, individually or collectively, by 50 percent or more by one or more individuals subject to asset blocking are also subject to the same restrictions.
The sanctions come at a time when US interests across Iraq and Syria are the target of drone strikes from IRGC-backed militia groups. The group claims its attacks constitute a response to Washington’s support for Israel in its war in the Gaza Strip.
On Sunday the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a network of shadow Iraqi militia groups backed by Iran and affiliated with IRGC claimed that it struck with three drones the al-Tanf Garrison in Syria, which resulted in the killing of at least three US troops and injuring 25 others.
American retaliatory attacks in Iraq have killed at least 12 members of the Iraqi state-linked and Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). The Iraqi government has repeatedly condemned the strikes as a “violation” of its sovereignty.
Source » rudaw