Iran remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, carrying out attacks and other destabilizing activities through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the corps’ specialized military unit called Quds Force (IRGC–QF). A major focus of U.S. sanctions is cutting off revenue streams to this group.

In May, the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates together took action to disrupt a large-scale currency exchange network that illegally transferred millions of dollars to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. The IRGC then used the money to fund “its malign activities and regional proxy groups,” the U.S. Treasury said.

Here’s how it worked. The U.S. designated Jahan Aras Kish, a front company for the IRGC for retrieving oil revenues from the Central Bank of Iran’s foreign accounts. Two officials from the company worked with an official in the IRGC and two money exchangers. These last three subsequently worked with another Iranian individual to transfer the money to the United Arab Emirates and convert it to U.S. dollars. The managing director of Rashed Exchange worked with the IRGC to forge documents that would conceal these illicit financial dealings.

Graphic explaining flow of money in and out of Iran (State Dept.)
(State Dept.)

“The Treasury Department thanks the UAE for its close collaboration on this matter,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin when announcing the designations. “Countries around the world must be vigilant against Iran’s efforts to exploit their financial institutions to exchange currency and fund the nefarious actors of the IRGC-QF and the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.”

This is the second of two articles on how the U.S. is combating Iran’s funding of terrorism, following “How U.S. caught Iran’s Central Bank funneling money to Hezbollah.”