The Financial Times reported today that Iran used the accounts of two of England's biggest banks, Lloyds and Santander UK, to secretly move money in a scheme to evade economic sanctions backed by Tehran's intelligence services.
According to a series of documents seen by the business newspaper, Lloyds and Santander UK provided accounts to British shell companies, secretly owned by a concessionary Iranian petrochemical company headquartered near Buckingham Palace in London.
The state-controlled Petrochemical Commercial Company (PCC) is part of a network the US accuses of funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to the Quds Force, part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and working with Russian intelligence agencies to raise money. Iranian fighters.
The Financial Times (FT) notes that both PCC and its British subsidiary PCC UK have been under US sanctions since November 2018.
According to a series of documents, emails and accounting records, during this period PCC's UK arm continued to operate from an office located in Grosvenor Gardens in the Belgravia borough of central London, using a complex network of entities.
The FT also reports that revelations of Iranian sanctions evasion in London have come since the Royal Air Force joined US airstrikes against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The United Kingdom and the United States last week sanctioned what they called a “transnational assassination network” overseen by Iranian intelligence targeting activists and dissidents, including British citizens.
Documents seen by the FT show that since coming under US sanctions, CCP has used companies in the UK to receive funds from Iranian shell companies in China, while hiding its true ownership through “trust agreements” and appointed directors.
One of them, Pisco UK, is registered with a sole proprietorship in the English county of Surrey and uses a business account with Santander UK.
According to the country's commercial register, Pisco UK is owned by a British citizen named Abdollah-Siauash Fahimi.
Among other revelations, the FT notes that Fahimi used a PCC email address to communicate with company officials in Tehran and that he was a PCC UK director from April 2021 to February 2022.
In 2021, Pisco's Santander account received a transfer from a Chinese firm called Black Tulip, another trust company controlled by an employee of Petrochemical Commercial, according to PCC's internal records.
Last year, the US Treasury accused Iranian petrochemical companies of using several shell companies to route their sales through Asia to avoid sanctions.
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