U.S. Watches Dubai Banks for Proliferation Ties
"WASHINGTON — U.S. Treasury Department representatives are monitoring the possibility that money flowing through banks in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, could be supporting WMD proliferation by countries such as Iran, a Treasury official told a House of Representatives subcommittee today (see GSN, Feb. 13).
"The director of the agency’s Foreign Assets Control Office, Robert Werner, expressed continued concern in the wake of Dubai-based activities of the Dutch bank ABN Amro that in December 2005 led the United States to fine the bank $80 million for improper transactions with Libyan and Iranian clients. The case involved U.S.-prohibited wire transfers for Iranian and Libyan clients by the bank's Dubai employees.
“'I'm very concerned by the type of activities that the ABN Amro case demonstrated,' Werner told the Financial Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. 'We intend to look at other situations that maybe may involve other international banks involved in that kind of conduct.'
"Asked by subcommittee Chairwoman Sue Kelly (R-N.Y.) whether he was concerned ABN Amro had 'laundered' WMD-related Iranian transactions through Dubai, Werner said officials from his office recently met in the United Arab Emirates with officials of that country to discuss WMD proliferation.
"He said the office, which administers U.S. sanctions against entities of national-security concern, would continue to monitor Dubai as a possible hub for circumvention of WMD-related sanctions.
“'The possible use of UAE-incorporated companies by Iranian agencies or citizens is of great concern to us,' he said.
"Despite Kelly's suggestion that Treasury might designate Dubai as a 'jurisdiction of primary money-laundering concern,' Werner expressed confidence in his UAE interlocutors.
“'They are anxious to engage in a dialogue with us,' he said. 'My feeling is that they're striving to work with OFAC.'
"Replied the chairwoman, 'Perhaps a bit of cynicism on the part of Treasury in dealing with these people might be in order.'
"U.S. President George W. Bush issued an executive order in June 2005 on blocking transfers of U.S. assets to entities of proliferation concern. Eighteen suspect companies have been listed so far under the order, including six in Iran and 11 in North Korea. Among other activities, Werner's office conducts investigations that provide evidence for listings of suspect entities under the order."
According to a report on tonight's local news here in the D.C. area, the port of Baltimore is already under the supervision of the UAE company.