WASHINGTON -- The Treasury Department took action Thursday against several companies and individuals across the globe for allegedly skirting U.S. sanctions against Iran and Syria.
With the help of the government in Georgia, Treasury officials levied sanctions against Pourya Nayebi, Houshang Hosseinpour and Houshang Farsoudeh. Treasury also targeted eight companies owned or controlled by them.
Specifically, the three allegedly took a majority share in a licensed bank in Georgia with correspondent ties other banks. They acquired the shares through a foundation based in the tiny European principality of Liechtenstein, and then through the Georgian bank allegedly helped the Iranian banks such as Bank Melli, Bank Saderat and others skirt international sanctions.
The agency also targeted several members of Iran's feared Revolutionary Guards for their support of Taliban efforts in Afghanistan.
In an unusual move, the Treasury statement today also noted action against al Qaida's network in Iran that supports affiliated groups in Syria. The agency targeted Olimzhon Adkhamovich Sadikov, who is better known as Jafer al-Uzbeki. He is allegedly an Iran-based Islamic Jihad Union facilitator who is thought to be a key smuggler of extremists and foreign fighters into Afghanistan and Syria.
Al-Uzbeki's designation is curious because some of Tuesday's sanctions seemed designed to thwart Iran's support of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, yet al-Uzbeki was targeted for his support of groups trying to overthrow Assad.
"We were very careful with our words in describing the somewhat unique posture of this network in Iran," said a senior Treasury official, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely.
While the Iranian government has some knowledge and support of what al-Uzbeki's group is up to, it is "not aware of everything they are doing" in Syria and certainly does not have control over the group, the official said.