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. US slaps sanctions on Bahrain bank for Iran links
WASHINGTON, March 12 (AFP) Mar 12, 2008
The United States on Wednesday imposed economic sanctions on Bahrain-based Future Bank, citing its role in supporting Iran's proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The US Treasury Department said it was taking the action against Future Bank BSC for being controlled by Iran's Bank Melli, which previously had been sanction by the Treasury for facilitating Iran's proliferation activities.

"Bank Melli goes to extraordinary lengths to assist Iran's pursuit of a nuclear capability and ballistic missiles, while also helping other designated entities to dodge sanctions," Stuart Levey, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

Levey said that banks and other entities owned or controlled by Bank Melli pose "a serious threat" to the integrity of the international financial system.

Sanctions were imposed on Bank Melli on October 25, 2007.

Future Bank was established in 2004 as a joint venture between two Iranian banks, Bank Melli and Bank Saderat, and a private bank based in Bahrain, according to the department.

Bank Melli and Bank Saderat each hold 33.3 percent of Future Bank's outstanding shares.

Bank Melli and Future Bank presently publicly identify the same individual as chairman of both institutions.

The Treasury said that "other information available to the US government" also showed that Future Bank is controlled by Bank Melli.

"Bahraini authorities have been closely monitoring Future Bank and took some steps after Treasury's designations of Banks Melli and Saderat to attempt to prevent abuse by this institution," Levey said.

The Treasury said its move was "consistent" with a United Nations Security Council resolution approved on March 3, 2008.

That resolution calls upon UN member nations to "exercise vigilance" with regard to activities between financial institutions in their countries and all banks domiciled in Iran, "in particular, Iran's Bank Melli and Bank Saderat," it said.

The action against Future Bank freezes any assets it has under US jurisdiction and bars Americans from conducting business with them at the risk of heavy fines and prison sentences.

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