Bahrain has begun procedures for trying suspects in the country’s money laundering scheme, after years of investigations into Iran’s involvement in suspicious operations to launder billions of dollars.
Washing the future
The Public Prosecution in Bahrain referred the individuals involved in the scheme of laundering billions of dollars through the El-Mostakbal Bank, which was established in the Kingdom, and controlled by two Iranian banks owned by Iran, namely the National Bank of Iran (Melli) and Iran’s Exports Bank.
According to the statement of the Bahraini Attorney General, the money laundering process has benefited various Iranian entities – including those involved in terrorist financing or subject to international sanctions – by carrying out international transactions while avoiding regulatory scrutiny.
Investigations revealed in 2018 that the El-Mostakbal Bank and its controlling shareholders were involved in systematic and widespread violations of banking laws in Bahrain, and the investigation included employees of the Bank, a review of tens of thousands of bank documents in cooperation with the Financial Investigation Unit of the Ministry of Interior, independent international experts, and forensic analysts.
Secret message service
Those investigations have concluded that the Bank, which operates under the supervision of the National Bank of Iran (Melli), and Iran’s Exports Bank, has carried out thousands of international financial transactions while providing covers for Iranian entities in them, and a form of concealment included the deliberate removal of basic information when transferring money via a swift network – an illegal practice referred to as “Wire Stripping”. The investigation also identified thousands of transactions that were stripped of data, totaling approximately $5 billion.
The Attorney General commented that another form of concealment implies the use of the secret messaging service as an alternative to the SWIFT system, which intentionally concealed transactions from Bahraini regulators, as these measures allowed Bank Al-Mostakbal to conceal a total of $2 billion in transactions.
Master of evidence
Money-laundering operations were not surprising to Iran. Rather, the matter concluded that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif admitted in November 2018 that money-laundering operations in Iran are a realistic reality in place, and there are many who benefit from this.
“I do not accuse any organ of being involved in this, but I believe that individuals who have interests in this case are behind the suggestion of these perceptions raised against the FATF bill,” he added.
The International Financial Action Task Force “FATF” is an intergovernmental body tasked with studying technologies, money laundering trends and terrorist financing, and preparing and developing policies related to combating these phenomena.
Money laundering is one of the most prominent ways of financing terrorist groups, and the most dangerous of them is the inability to track money and its source.
Although the Iranian parliament approved two bills to amend legislation related to terrorist financing and money laundering, last year, the Guardian Council, “a body of 12 members appointed by the Iranian Supreme Leader, has the power to veto legislation that it considers contrary to the hard-line ideology of the mullahs’ regime has rejected them.
The two bills that were rejected included Iran’s ratification of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, as well as the ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The Expediency Council is the Arbitration Board for Dispute Resolution between Parliament and the Guardian Council, but so far it has not taken any procedure in this regard that is considered several months.
The term “money laundering” is of growing concern, especially when it comes to financing terrorist operations, which governments and agencies are trying to track the sources of that money to confront to limit the funds reaching armed groups.
Terrorists use methods such as those used to launder money to divert the attention of the authorities, protect the identity of their sponsors, and the final beneficiaries of the funds. Anti-terrorism experts monitor that the financial transactions related to terrorist financing tend to be in smaller amounts than they are in the case of large money laundering in countries.
Source » theportal-center