UAE orders companies to freeze accounts, assets of nine Iranian entities

The nine are believed to be the same six individuals and three companies sanctioned by the United States in May

The UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authority has issued a circular to firms operating in securities and commodities sectors ordering them to freeze the accounts of nine Iranian individuals and organisations on its terror sanctions list.

The regulator said all companies operating in the fields have been instructed to search for and freeze any accounts, funds, securities, goods and items owned by or associated with the group.

“The procedures also include the freezing of funds used by individuals and entities listed on the list approved by the State or by natural or legal persons associated with them,” according to state news agency WAM.

The nine are believed to be the same six individuals and three companies sanctioned by the United States in coordination with the UAE in May for funnelling millions of dollars to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force.

The group was described as comprising currency traders and front companies of the Quds Force and included one firm involved in retrieving oil revenue from foreign banks accounts held by the Iranian central bank for Quds activities, Reuters reported.

“The Iranian regime and its central bank have abused access to entities in the UAE to acquire US dollars to fund the IRGC-QF’s malign activities, including to fund and arm its regional proxy groups, by concealing the purpose for which the US dollars were acquired,” US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement at the time.

The UAE regulator urged companies not to freeze or prevent receipt of funds, securities, goods and other items if the names did not exactly match the list.

Companies that find any suspicious activity are urged to immediately inform the Central Bank and the Securities and Commodities Authority.

Failure to comply will result in “severe penalties”, it warned.

Reuters reported in 2015 that at least $1bn in cash had been smuggled into Iran through money changers and front companies in Dubai and Iraq.