At a hearing of the United States Senate’s Finance Committee, a senior official in the US Treasury Department has called Iran “the central banker of terrorism”.
Outlining some of what Iran is known to be doing to support anti-American and anti-Israeli fighters, the under-secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Stuart Levey, said Iran “uses its global financial ties and its state-owned banks to pursue its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and to fund terrorism.”
He also told lawmakers that Iran used front companies and “cut-outs” to “engage in ostensibly innocent transactions that are actually related to its nuclear missile programs.”
“We have seen Iran’s banks request other financial institutions take their names off of transactions when processing them in the international financial system. This practice, which is even used by the central bank of Iran, is intended to evade the controls put in place by responsible financial institutions and has the effect of threatening to involve those financial institutions in transactions that they would never engage in if they knew who or what was really involved,” Levey said.
Levey heads the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which is responsible for tracking money being filtered into terrorist groups. In all, since June 2005, the OFAC has identified 51 entities and 12 individuals as proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, of whom 36 entities and 11 individuals were tied to Iran, nine entities and one individual were tied to North Korea and three entities were tied to Syria. Levey told senators that efforts to cut off money to Al Qaeda had shown success – especially in the last 18 months. He cited senior al-Qaeda leaders’ complaints that they had suicide bombers ready to go but no money to finance operations.