Stringent US Moves against Money Flows from Iraq to Iran

A currency exchange shop in central Baghdad (AP)
A currency exchange shop in central Baghdad (AP)
TT

Stringent US Moves against Money Flows from Iraq to Iran

A currency exchange shop in central Baghdad (AP)
A currency exchange shop in central Baghdad (AP)

The decline in the value of Iraq’s national currency and the rise in the prices of foodstuffs and imported goods can be traced back to remarkable change in the policy adopted by the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Both bodies have had a policy shift to curb money laundering and the illegal appropriation of dollars by Iraqi commercial banks for the benefit of Iran and other countries subject to sanctions in the Middle East.

The New York Fed began enforcing tighter controls on international dollar transactions by commercial Iraqi banks in November in a move to curtail money laundering and the illegal siphoning of dollars to Iran and other heavily sanctioned Middle East countries, US and Iraqi officials said according to the Wall Street Journal.

Iraqi banks had operated under less stringent rules since shortly after the 2003 US invasion.

It is time for Iraq’s banking system to comply with global money-transfer practices, the officials added.

Since the procedures went into effect, 80% or more of Iraq’s daily dollar wire transfers, which previously totaled over $250 million some days, have been blocked because of insufficient information about the funds’ destinations or other errors, according to US and Iraqi officials and official Iraqi government data.

Under the new procedures, Iraqi banks must submit dollar transfers on a new online platform with the central bank, which are then reviewed by the Fed.

The system is aimed at curtailing use of Iraq’s banking system to smuggle dollars to Tehran, Damascus and money laundering havens across the Middle East, US officials said.

Another US official said the measures would limit “the ability of malign actors to use the Iraqi banking system.”

US officials have pressed Iraq for years to strengthen its banking controls. In 2015, the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department temporarily shut off the flow of billions of dollars to Iraq’s central bank over concerns that the currency was ending up at Iranian banks and possibly being funneled to ISIS militants, officials said at the time.



Bangladesh Extends Curfew ahead of Court Hearing on Controversial Job Quotas

18 July 2024, Bangladesh, Dhaka: People and police clash during a protest against the government's job quota system. Photo: Rubel Karmaker/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
18 July 2024, Bangladesh, Dhaka: People and police clash during a protest against the government's job quota system. Photo: Rubel Karmaker/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
TT

Bangladesh Extends Curfew ahead of Court Hearing on Controversial Job Quotas

18 July 2024, Bangladesh, Dhaka: People and police clash during a protest against the government's job quota system. Photo: Rubel Karmaker/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
18 July 2024, Bangladesh, Dhaka: People and police clash during a protest against the government's job quota system. Photo: Rubel Karmaker/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

Bangladesh extended a curfew on Sunday to control violent student-led protests that have killed at least 114 people, as authorities braced for a Supreme Court hearing later in the day on government job quotas that sparked the anger.
Soldiers have been on patrol on the streets of capital Dhaka, the center of the demonstrations that spiraled into clashes between protesters and security forces, Reuters said.
Internet and text message services in Bangladesh have been suspended since Thursday, cutting the nation off as police cracked down on protesters who defied a ban on public gatherings.
A curfew ordered late on Friday has been extended to 3 p.m. (0900 GMT) on Sunday, until after the Supreme Court hearing, and will continue for an "uncertain time" following a two-hour break for people to gather supplies, local media reported.
Universities and colleges have also been closed since Wednesday.
Nationwide unrest broke out following student anger against quotas for government jobs that included reserving 30% for the families of those who fought for independence from Pakistan.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government had scrapped the quota system in 2018, but a court reinstated it last month.
The Supreme Court suspended the decision after a government appeal and will hear the case on Sunday after agreeing to bring forward a hearing scheduled for Aug. 7.
The demonstrations - the biggest since Hasina was re-elected for a fourth successive term this year - have also been fueled by high unemployment among young people, who make up nearly a fifth of the population.
The US State Department on Saturday raised its travel advisory for Bangladesh to level four, urging American citizens to not travel to the South Asian country.