U.S. to Press U.A.E. CEOs to Tighten Financial Screws on Iran

(Bloomberg) -- A senior U.S. Treasury official is in the United Arab Emirates to meet with the chiefs of the country’s banks and shipping companies as the Trump administration seeks to further tighten sanctions against the Iranian regime.

Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, will be meeting the chief executive officers of seven U.A.E. banks on Sunday and Monday. She will also hold talks with officials before heading to Switzerland and Israel.

“We’re discussing ways to work together to counter terrorism and Iran’s destabilizing influence in the region and around the world,” Mandelker told reporters in the capital, Abu Dhabi, on Sunday.

The trip marks the latest effort by the U.S. to turn up the pressure on Iran, which has so far refused to negotiate unless American sanctions are lifted. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the multiparty 2015 nuclear deal and began to reimpose penalties last year. Earlier in 2019, the U.S. suspended waivers that allowed countries to buy Iranian oil.

The Treasury has issued over 30 rounds of curbs targeting more than 1,000 Iran-related entities, Mandelker said.

Last week, a major shipping network was also sanctioned after selling millions of barrels of of Iranian crude, she said. It allegedly supports the Qods Force, the international brigade of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has been shipping oil to help the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, she added.

The U.S. is also targeting those who engage in other trade and financial activities related to Iran’s petrochemical and metal production, Mandelker said. On June 7, Iran’s largest petrochemicals group was sanctioned, and two of its designated sales agents were based in the U.A.E., she said.

“As we’ve seen historically, that kind of trade has happened right here in the U.A.E.,” she said. “And we want to make sure that that sector understands that there are similar consequences to continuing to engage in that kind of trade.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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