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.


Sheikha Shamma calls for balance between economic, environmental resilience

Updated 25 min 45 sec ago

Sheikha Shamma calls for balance between economic, environmental resilience

  • UAE royal: Coronavirus pandemic necessitates “a more sustainable future”
  • “We must adopt technologies and business models that increase both financial and environmental efficiency,” she said

LONDON: The spread of coronavirus has given the world an opportunity to strike a balance between building economic and environmental resilience, the UAE’s Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan said on Thursday during a webinar attended by Arab News.
“As governments, we must continue to encourage the diversification of GDP (gross domestic product) contribution and exploration of new and sustainable industries. As investors, we need to make more responsible decisions with our investments,” said Sheikha Shamma, who is CEO of Alliances for Global Sustainability and founder of the Circle of Hope foundation.
“As businesses, we must adopt technologies and business models that increase both financial and environmental efficiency. And as individuals, we must rethink our approach to these sources, support local producers and work toward creating a circular economy,” she added.
“My hope is that in these difficult times, we won’t just find ways to overcome challenges but seek out opportunities that pave the way toward a more sustainable future.”
The webinar, titled “The State of the Environment post-COVID,” was hosted by the UK-based Emirates Society.
It featured Lord Goldsmith, UK minister of state for the Pacific, international environment, climate and forests, and animal welfare, as well as Dominic Jermey, director general of the Zoological Society of London.
“The numbers really speak for themselves, and they reflect a litany of devastation,” Lord Goldsmith said. He highlighted how populations of animals have on average more than halved, with around 1 million species facing extinction within decades, while every minute on average the world loses 30 football pitches worth of forests.
“A third of marine animals are threatened with extinction and, if trends continue, we’re told that by 2050 the oceans will contain more plastic than fish, as measured by waves,” he said.
“We need economists, businesses and markets to develop tools fast to value things like nature and attach a cost to things that we need to phase out like emissions, deforestation, plastic pollution and so on.”
Jermey, who was Britain’s ambassador to the UAE from 2010 to 2014, called COVID-19 a “wake-up call.”
He added: “Those pathogens, that 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases that move from wildlife to people, are increasingly making that transition. We have to rethink, holistically, our relationship with nature.”