The Government is facing increasing cross-party demands to shut down the UK operations of two Iranian state-owned banks accused of funneling cash to Tehran’s proxy militias and helping to fund the regime’s foreign policy.

Dame Margaret Hodge, a senior Labour MP and leader of a Parliamentary taskforce on corruption, told i that it was “utterly depressing” that the two financial institutions – Melli Bank and Bank Saderat – continue to run subsidiaries in London despite their history of being named in Western sanctions regimes.

Melli Bank has been cited in American sanctions for allegedly supporting the activities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), while Bank Saderat has been targeted by Washington over claims it has provided financial services for Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

Both banks were also found liable by the US Federal Court in 2021 for a Hamas terrorist attack in Israel in 2015 that left two people dead. A judge had ruled that the finance houses had been used by the Quds Force, an offshoot of the IRGC created to liaise with and fund Tehran’s proxy militias to pass funds to terror groups.

The renewed call for action by UK ministers follows pressure from senior Conservative backbenchers, including former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, for sanctions to be applied to the two banks to stop them from operating within the UK’s financial system. Bank Saderat, which along with Melli Bank is state-owned, has an office in the heart of the City close to the Bank of England. Melli Bank operates from a Victorian former municipal library in well-heeled Kensington.

In a report issued on Wednesday by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption, MPs warned that Iran was using financial assets abroad to advance its interests, and called for stronger enforcement of existing sanctions to deter rogue regimes.

Dame Margaret told i: “It is utterly depressing that we are allowing banks in the UK to allegedly funnel cash to terror groups like the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, who have sent hundreds of missiles into Israel and who fund the activities of Hamas and Hezbollah. The group must be proscribed but, more importantly, any associated bank should be held to account.”

Source » msn