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Forbes- Emanuele Ottolenghi: Is Iran using virtual currency and other new payment methods to circumvent financial sanctions?

As recently revealed by an exclusive Reuters report on Iran’s procurement efforts, a UN panel in charge of monitoring sanctions’ implementation believes that Iran may have “learned how to outsmart security and intelligence services in acquiring sensitive components and materials.” Iran not only knows how to cover the tracks of its procurement; its agents have figured out how to bypass financial sanctions as well. They appear to have learned from organized crime how to launder money and move illicit revenue across borders. 

The world is looking forward to the resumption of much different negotiations later this month when Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany come together for a new round of nuclear talks. But right now, these powers remain in a relatively quiet phase of the process.

The US Federal Court has accused a Chinese Electronic Company called “Shandang-Shinran” of selling night vision cameras to Iran and breaking the sanctions against Iran.

In an article published in Forbes, Addison Wiggins gives a partial account of how Iran has coordinated with other Middle Eastern and Asian countries in order to evade US-led economic sanctions that were in place throughout 2012 and 2013. Those sanctions resulted in billions of dollars of Iranian assets being frozen in US banks, while the Islamic nation was shut out of subsequent conventional sales of oil and natural gas, which must be conducting in American currency through a global payment network called SWIFT.

As the world prepares for the next round of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, set for the third week of June, it is important for the West to carefully consider how strong its bargaining position is. The prevailing assumption has been that Iran would feel compelled to vigorously pursue a compromise because of the importance of alleviating sanctions in order to save the Iranian economy. But this may be a serious overestimation of the situation.

AFP - The US is seeking more than $10 billion from French bank BNP Paribas to settle criminal charges it violated sanctions on Iran, Sudan and Cuba, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.


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