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US blacklists network of Iran 'front companies'

The US Treasury Department blacklisted a global network of Iranian private front companies, a revenue source Tehran's leadership set up to sidestep international sanctions.

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An Iranian woman walks past a mural painting of a revolver on the walls of the former US embassy in Tehran. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

The US has blacklisted dozens of international private organizations that it calls a global "network of front companies" that have helped Iran's leadership circumvent international sanctions.

The 37 named companies — from Iran, Germany, South Africa and Croatia — have helped funnel revenue to Tehran and generate billions of off-the-book dollars, all managed by the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO), through two main subsidiaries.

“Even as economic conditions in Iran deteriorate, senior Iranian leaders profit from a shadowy network of off-the-books front companies,” David S. Cohen, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

"While the Iranian government's leadership works to hide billions of dollars in corporate profits earned at the expense of the Iranian people, Treasury will continue exposing and acting against the regime's attempts to evade our sanctions and escape international isolation," Cohen added.

The US Treasury Department, under executive order, is allowed to freeze Tehran's assets within the US. Multiple rounds of economic sanctions against Iran prohibit US citizens and their companies from working with blacklisted firms.

The US and other western nations believe Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons technology. Tehran denies the accusation, saying its nuclear program is for civilian and medical purposes only.

While crippling sanctions, imposed by the US and the European Union, have cut Iran's oil exports in half and severely undermined the rial, its currency, Iran's nuclear program has not stopped.

"Each passing month shows important results obtained through sanctions. Yet, the Iranian regime is still able to fund nuclear enrichment in ways that bear no relationship to a peaceful program," Senator Mike Crapo, a Republican on the US Senate Banking Committee, said Tuesday during a sanction hearing

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/130604/us-blacklists-network-iran-front-companies