ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Dubai should keep a close eye on sanctions-hit Iranian banks operating in the Gulf trade hub, a U.S. official involved in tracking suspicious financial activity said on Wednesday.
“There is a challenge here in the UAE especially because of these financial, familial commercial ties between the UAE and Iran, and they are grappling with these issues in that context,” said Stuart Levey, U.S. Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
“Continuing to show and continuing to be committed to protection against illicit conduct is important.”
Levey said that the United Arab Emirates had implemented U.N. Security Council resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran over its disputed nuclear plans and was working with the United States on counterproliferation.
The United States and other Western countries have urged more international vigilance against Iranian banks, saying they are trying to skirt U.N. sanctions. Iranian lenders such as Bank Saderat and Bank Melli, which were the focus of Levey’s comments, operate in the UAE.
“These banks are an issue of concern and they are deserving of scrutiny because of their track record,” Levey said.
U.S. policy on sanctions against Iran will likely continue during the presidency of Barack Obama, he said.
“There’s one area in U.S. continuity — rigorous enforcement of U.N. Security Council resolutions and protection of the international financial system,” he said.
Levey criticized cooperation by Russia and Qatar with Iran on gas development.
“We are watching. We think it is not a good time to pursue businesses with Iran,” he said.
Iran, Russia and Qatar, the world’s three leading gas producers, agreed to boost coordination last month.