US sanctions Iraqi firm for trafficking weapons to Iran-backed militias

Company and two Iraqi citizens linked to transactions worth hundreds of millions of dollars for Revolutionary Guard

US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin speaks at an investment Summit in Washington on June 12, 2019. Reuters
US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin speaks at an investment Summit in Washington on June 12, 2019. Reuters

The US Treasury has placed sanctions on an Iraq-based company and two Iraqi citizens for trafficking weapons worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Iraqi militias backed by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its foreign operations arm, the Quds Force.

The Treasury said that in addition to weapons smuggling, South Wealth Resources Company, also known as Manabea Tharwat Al Janoob General Trading Company, "moved millions of dollars to Iraq for illicit financial activity benefiting the IRGC-QF and its Iraq-based militia groups".

The SWRC and its two associates, Makki Kazim Abd Al Hamid Al Asadi and Muhammed Husayn Salih Al Hasani, have also been placed on the US State Department's list of "Specially Designated Global Terrorists", according to a Treasury statement released on Wednesday.

The US move tightens pressure on the IRGC after designating it as a foreign terrorist organisation in April. The Quds Force was designated in 2007 for supporting terrorism.

The new sanctions freeze any assets that the targets may have in US jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.

The Treasury said SWRC also generated profit in the form of commission payments for Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis, an US-sanctioned adviser to Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.

"Treasury is taking action to shut down Iranian weapons smuggling networks that have been used to arm regional proxies of the IRGC Quds Force in Iraq, while personally enriching regime insiders," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

"The Iraqi financial sector and the broader international financial system must harden their defences against the continued deceptive tactics emanating from Tehran in order to avoid complicity in the IRGC's ongoing sanctions evasion schemes and other malign activities," he said.

Published: June 13, 2019 05:41 PM


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