London’s Terror Bank
hat tip-Margo I.
August 21, 2008 Wall Street Journal
In the war on terror, the U.S. has had no greater friend than the United Kingdom. And as the U.S. economy continues to suffer under the burdens of Sarbanes-Oxley, our British friends have demonstrated a more sensible approach to financial regulation.
For both of the preceding statements, however, there is an exception. Even as the U.K. stands with us in rallying the world against doing business with Tehran, an Iranian bank with a history of financing terrorism continues to operate in London.
On September 8, 2006, the U.S. Treasury announced it was cutting off all direct and indirect ties to the U.S. financial system for Iran’s Bank Saderat, given the bank’s history of financing terrorism. Treasury’s press release did not mention the United Kingdom, but an October 2007 Treasury report connected the dot
In March, the U.N. Security Council imposed its third round of sanctions against Iran for its refusal to halt its nuclear weapons program. Included in the sanctions package was a warning to all countries “to exercise vigilance” on transactions with all Iranian banks, but especially Bank Saderat and Bank Melli, due to the risk that such transactions could support illicit nuclear activities. A June 14 statement by the G-8 finance ministers also singled out Saderat and Melli as rogue banks.
Better late than never, on June 23 the European Union, with support from the U.K., imposed tough sanctions, including an asset freeze — but only on Bank Melli. The penalty was richly deserved. Melli is Iran’s largest bank, and according to Treasury, “through its role as a financial conduit, Bank Melli has facilitated numerous purchases of sensitive materials for Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.”s.