The US Treasury Department on Thursday announced sanctions on a former Iranian-Venezuelan bank it said is being used to avoid restrictions placed earlier on other Iranian institutions.
The US Treasury said that the Tehran-based Iranian Venezuelan Bi-National Bank (IVB) was providing financial services to the Iranian Ministry of Defense and acting on behalf of the Export Development Bank of Iran.
Both the ministry and the EDBI are already under US sanctions for alleged support of terrorism and backing Iran’s suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons.
The Treasury said the IVB had handled money transfers on EDBI’s behalf with a Chinese bank, Bank of Kunlun, itself also blacklisted by the Treasury for its dealings with Tehran.
The Treasury noted that despite its name, “there is no evidence Venezuela retains any ties” with the four-year-old IVB, originally established as a joint venture between Iran and Venezuela.
The sanctions forbid any US citizens or institutions from doing business with the sanctioned institution, and freezes any assets it might hold in the United States.
The Treasury also named for sanctions a shipping firm, Sambouk Shipping, as involved in attempts by Tehran to break restrictions on its oil exports with the alleged help of Greek businessman Dimitris Cambis.
Cambis was singled out for sanctions in March for acquiring and managing a fleet of eight aging oil tankers secretly on Tehran’s behalf.
The Treasury said Thursday that the vessels had recently been renamed and/or reflagged.
“As Iran becomes increasingly isolated from the international financial system and energy markets, it is turning increasingly to convoluted schemes and shady actors to maintain its access to the global financial system,” Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said in a statement.
“As long as Iran tries to evade our sanctions, we will continue to expose their deceptive maneuvers.”