Bahrain brings charges in vast money laundering case linked to Iranian state-owned banks

The bank at the center of the allegations was set up and controlled by Iran’s Bank Saderat and Bank Melli. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 13 February 2020

Bahrain brings charges in vast money laundering case linked to Iranian state-owned banks

  • Billions of dollars were funneled through Future Bank, which was controlled by Iran’s Bank Saderat and Bank Melli
  • Operation allowed Iranian organizations, including some sanctioned for terror financing, to secretly move money internationally,

DUBAI: Bahrain launched legal proceedings on Thursday against a number of individuals and businesses involved in a vast money laundering scheme linked to state-owned Iranian banks.

The operation allowed Iranian organizations, including some sanctioned for terror financing, to secretly move money internationally, the Kingdom’s prosecutors said. 

Billions of dollars were funneled through Future Bank, which was based in Bahrain but set up and controlled by Iran’s Bank Saderat and Bank Melli.

The defendants are charged with multiple offences under Bahrain’s anti-money laundering  and banking laws, the state Bahrain News Agency reported.

Future Bank, which was shut down in 2016, engaged in “systemic and wide scale violations of Bahrain’s banking laws,” the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) said, referring to a 2018 report.

Further investigations found the bank, acting under the direction of Bank Saderat and Bank Melli, to have executed thousands of international financial transactions worth $7 billion while concealing the involvement of Iranian entities. 

Staff deliberately removed information when transferring money via the SWIFT network – an illicit practice referred to as “wire stripping”. 

Another technique involved a covert messaging service as an alternative to SWIFT, which concealed transactions from Bahraini regulators.

The years-long investigation by the CBB, the Ministry of Interior, and international regulatory experts, reviewed tens of thousands of Future Bank documents.

Rasheed Al-Maraj, the CBB governor said the complexity and magnitude of the investigations were compounded by the need to disentangle the subterfuge of Iranian-backed financing of terrorism.

“Bahrain is committed to full implementation of international standards in combatting money laundering and the financing of terrorism,” he said. “Investigating and prosecuting violations is an essential part of protecting the integrity of the international financial system.”

Bahrain’s public prosecution has referred the cases to Bahrain’s High Criminal Court, with further charges expected as investigations continue into thousands of remaining transactions.


French extremist trained by Paris attacks leader given 12-year jail term

Updated 4 min 18 sec ago

French extremist trained by Paris attacks leader given 12-year jail term

  • Reda Hame, 34, was sentenced to 12 years in jail

PARIS: A French court on Tuesday handed a 12-year jail term to a computer technician who traveled to Syria to wage war and trained under the suspected ringleader of the 2015 Paris attacks.
Reda Hame, 34, who was convicted of participating in a criminal conspiracy aimed at harming people, received weapons training and a mission from Abdelhamid Abaaoud during his eight-day stay in Syria in the summer of 2015.
Abaaoud, who is believed to have coordinated the November 2015 attacks that left 130 people dead in Paris, taught him how to fire an assault rifle and handle a grenade.
He then dropped him off at the Turkish border with orders to return home and carry out an attack on behalf of the Daesh group.
Hame told investigators that Abaaoud, who was killed in a shootout with French police after the Paris attacks, asked him if he would be prepared to shoot into a crowd, giving as an example a rock concert.
But the Paris native, who was arrested on his return to France, insisted that he never had any intention of following Daesh’s orders.
Styling himself an Daesh deserter, he told the court he only pretended to accept his mission to escape the horrors of the Syrian war and regretted ever enlisting with Daesh.
The prosecution had challenged his account of his change of heart, portraying him as a dutiful Daesh “soldier” who had traveled to Syria to join Daesh “at a time when the most hardine, those who will go on to attack Europe and France, are leaving (France for Syria).”
In sentencing Hame to 12 years in jail — the prosecution had sought a 20-year term — the court “showed clemency,” the defendant’s lawyer Archibald Celeyron said.
Hundreds of young French radicals traveled to Syria and Iraq to join Daesh before US-led coalition forces dislodged the insurgents from the last holdouts last year.
Dozens have returned home and been jailed in France but some scores more remain in camps in Syria.