US Slaps Sanctions on Network It Accuses of Moving Billions for Iran’s Military

The Treasury Department is pictured in Washington, US, April 25, 2021. (Reuters)
The Treasury Department is pictured in Washington, US, April 25, 2021. (Reuters)
TT

US Slaps Sanctions on Network It Accuses of Moving Billions for Iran’s Military

The Treasury Department is pictured in Washington, US, April 25, 2021. (Reuters)
The Treasury Department is pictured in Washington, US, April 25, 2021. (Reuters)

The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on nearly 50 entities and people it accused of moving billions of dollars for Iran's military.

The US Treasury Department in a statement said those targeted on Tuesday constitute a "shadow banking network" used by Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), both of which are under US sanctions.

The network helped the MODAFL and IRGC - which earn money notably from the sale of oil and petrochemicals - gain access to the international financial system and process the equivalent of billions of dollars since 2020, the Treasury said.

The Treasury said the revenue generated by the MODAFL and IRGC through networks of Iranian exchange houses and foreign cover companies supported the provision of weapons and funding to Iran's proxy groups, including Yemen's Houthi militias, and the transfer of drones to Russia for use in the war against Ukraine.

Washington has issued rafts of sanctions targeting Iranian drones and the Houthis, who have been launching drone and missile strikes in shipping lanes since November in what they say is solidarity with Palestinians in Israel's war in Gaza.

"We continue to work with allies and partners, as well as the global financial industry, to increase vigilance against the movement of funds supporting terrorism," Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in the statement.

Iran's mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately comment on the action.

Tuesday's action targeted dozens of companies in Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and Marshall Islands, as well as Iran and Türkiye-based firms.

The Treasury said the MODAFL Supply Division uses exchange houses in Iran that manage numerous cover companies registered in jurisdictions such as Hong Kong or the UAE to launder revenue, including from oil sales conducted by Sahara Thunder, which the US imposed sanctions on in April.

The Treasury at the time accused Sahara Thunder of being a front company that oversees MODAFL's commercial activities in support of the IRGC and Russia's war in Ukraine, playing a key role in Iran's design, development, manufacture and sale of thousands of drones.

The move freezes the US assets of banned companies and individuals, and generally bars Americans from dealing with them. Those that engage in certain transactions with them also risk being hit with sanctions.



Internet Hasn't Been Restored in Bangladesh despite Apparent Calm Following Deadly Protests

Bangladeshi soldiers stand guard at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, amid the anti-quota protests in Dhaka on July 21, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
Bangladeshi soldiers stand guard at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, amid the anti-quota protests in Dhaka on July 21, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
TT

Internet Hasn't Been Restored in Bangladesh despite Apparent Calm Following Deadly Protests

Bangladeshi soldiers stand guard at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, amid the anti-quota protests in Dhaka on July 21, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
Bangladeshi soldiers stand guard at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, amid the anti-quota protests in Dhaka on July 21, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)

Internet and mobile data services are still down despite apparent calm in Bangladesh following a verdict that scaled back a controversial quota system for government jobs after weeks of relentless protests that turned deadly.
The government has also declared Monday a public holiday, with only essential services running. This comes after a curfew with a shoot-on-sight order was installed days earlier and military personnel could be seen patrolling the capital and other areas, The Associated Press said.
The South Asian country witnessed clashes between the police and mainly student protesters demanding an end to a quota that reserved 30% of government jobs for relatives of veterans who fought in Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971.
The violence has killed more than a hundred people, according to at least four local newspapers. Authorities have not so far shared official figures for deaths. On Thursday, communications were cut off as tensions escalated.
There was no immediate violence reported on Monday morning after the Supreme Court ordered the veterans’ quota to be cut to 5%, with 93% of jobs allocated on merit, the day before. The remaining 2% will be set aside for members of ethnic minorities as well as transgender and disabled people.
On Sunday night, some student protesters urged the government to restore internet services. Hasnat Abdullah, a coordinator of the Anti-Discrimination Student Movement, told the Associated Press that they were withdrawing their calls for a complete shutdown, which they attempted to impose last week.
“But we are issuing an ultimatum for 48 hours to stop the digital crackdown and restore internet connectivity,” he said, adding that security officials deployed at various universities should be withdrawn, student dormitories reopened and steps taken so students can return to their campuses safely. Abdullah also said they wanted the government to end the curfew and ensure the country was back to normal within two days.
Students have also demanded some university officials to step down after failing to protect campuses. Sarjis Alam, another coordinator of the Anti-Discrimination Student Movement, said that they would continue with their protests if all their demands weren't met. “We cannot step back from our movement like a coward,” he added.
Another key organizer of the student protests, Nahid Islam, told reporters that the internet shutdown had disrupted their ability to communicate and alleged that authorities were trying to create divisions among protesters. “I am mentally traumatized ... our unity is being destroyed,” he said.
The US Embassy in the capital Dhaka described Sunday the situation as “extremely volatile” and “unpredictable,” adding that guns, tear gas and other weapons have been used in the vicinity of the embassy. They said the Bangladeshi army had been deployed and urged Americans to be vigilant, avoid large crowds and reconsider travel plans.
The protests have posed the most serious challenge to Bangladesh’s government since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina won a fourth consecutive term in January elections that the main opposition groups boycotted. Universities have been closed, the internet has been shut off and the government has ordered people to stay at home.
Protesters had argued the quota system was discriminatory and benefited supporters of Hasina, whose Awami League party led the independence movement, and wanted it replaced by a merit-based system. Hasina has defended the quota system, saying that veterans deserve the highest respect regardless of political affiliation.
The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has backed the protests, vowing to organize its own demonstrations as many of its supporters joined the student-led protests.
The Awami League and the BNP have often accused each other of fueling political chaos and violence, most recently ahead of the country’s national election, which was marred by a crackdown on several opposition figures.