Under Secretary, Sigal Mandelker on Iran at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Two days ago, the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, made this speech at the FDD.
I am going to focus in on the surreptitious means Iran uses to finance itself and its long list of malign activities. I spend my days and nights tracking and targeting terrorist financing, proliferation financing and a myriad of other illicit activities, including the methods our adversaries use to attempt to conceal their behavior. We regularly warn governments and companies all over the world about the need to harden their networks from illicit actors, whether it is through the strong actions that we take, in bilateral government engagements, through the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), or with the private sector.
What country fits this prototype? Iran.
The Iranian government has demonstrated time and time again, including throughout the JCPOA, that it is a regime bent on supporting terrorism and promoting ruthless actors, destabilizing the region, and abusing the human rights of its own people. And to fund these illicit activities, Iran exploits the global financial system, as well as country after country around the world. In Syria, for example, Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) have funded Assad’s murderous campaign against his own people. Iran provides upwards of $700 million a year to Hizballah, which continues to threaten our close ally Israel — including using rockets supplied by Iran to target Israeli neighborhoods. Iran has also used deception to obtain hard currency for the IRGC-Qods Force (Qods Force) and front companies to conceal its procurement of parts for airlines ferrying Iranian terrorists to the battlefront in Syria. These efforts, often directed by senior level Iranian officials, constitute a deliberate pattern to deceive and exploit legitimate businesses, financial institutions, and governments.
Iran’s Systematic Efforts to Undermine the International Financial System
Let’s start by talking about Iran’s abuse of the international financial system. We continue to see Iran use deceptive tactics including front and shell companies to exploit markets in numerous countries to fund its nefarious activities. Iran’s deceitful tactics include forging documents, obfuscating data, and hiding illicit activities under official cover of government entities, among many others. The objective is to ensure that no legitimate company or government knows that they are being used to achieve Iran’s illicit aims. What is all the more remarkable about this activity is that we are seeing Central Bank of Iran complicity in Qods Force financing.