In a recent court-case in Bahrain, evidence of large-scale fraud and illegal financial transactions to help Iran evade sanctions, has been shown.
It’s the now closed Future Bank – a 2004 joint Bahraini-Iran venture involving two of Iran’s largest lenders, Bank Melli and Bank Saderat – for years provided Iran with access to outside financial institutions and markets.
This was done by altering financial documents masking illicit trade, despite sanctions, as well as creating phantom loans to companies operating as fronts to the IRGC.
Auditors also discovered hundreds of accounts tied to individuals convicted of crimes such as money-laundering and terrorism financing.
Allegedly, at least $7 billion of transactions were concealed between 2004 and 2015, during a time when Iran had difficulties accessing outside financial markets due to sanctions.
The Bank was created in 2004 when Bahrain – who has long-standing cultural and religious ties to Iran – was trying to mend fences with Iran. But the fate of the venture pointed to the Bahrainis being taken for a ride by Iran in that this was mainly used to conceal and evade sanctions, using Bahrain as a conduit. And it’s Bahraini auditors and investigators who have provided the bulk of the damning evidence against the Bank.
That this is not a new phenomenon has been shown time and time again, but it’s nevertheless a good picture into the hidden world of illicit financial transactions and it also show that despite quite severe repercussions if one gets caught, there are many willing sanction-busters if the prize is right.