The Bush administration has imposed financial sanctions on a Bahraini bank Washington alleges is controlled by Iran's Bank Melli, which has been accused of providing support to Iran's nuclear program.
According to the AP, the Treasury Department's action Wednesday targets Future Bank B.S.C. Any bank accounts or other financial assets found in the U.S. belonging to the bank must be frozen. Americans also are prohibited from doing business with the bank.
It marked the U.S. government's latest attempt to reduce the financial resources of Iran.
Future Bank was founded in 2004 as a joint venture between two Iranian state-owned banks - Bank Melli and Bank Saderat - and a private bank based in Bahrain, the department said. Bank Melli and Bank Saderat were put on the United States' blacklist last year to have their financial assets frozen.
Bank Melli and Bank Saderat each hold 33.3 percent of Future Bank's outstanding shares, the department said. "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," said Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. "Banks and other entities owned or controlled by Bank Melli pose a serious threat to the integrity of the international financial system," he added.
Future Bank says on its website "The bank’s main business focus is wholesale investment banking and it targets the financial flows between Iran and the GCC countries. Its target clients are the top 30 corporate listed on the Tehran Stock Exchange (TSE) as well as large and mid size corporate, institutional and high net worth investors in the GCC." The Bank has been licensed by the Bahrain Monetary Agency as a Full Commercial Banking unit with an Offshore Banking Unit branch in the Kingdom of Bahrain.