The US Treasury Department designated on November 20 an Iranian network that has procured “advanced equipment and materials to print counterfeit Yemeni banknotes potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars” for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Qods Force in order to supply them with counterfeit currency. One of the four branches of the IRGC, the Qods Force is in charge of external operations.
“This scheme exposes the deep levels of deception the IRGC-Qods Force is willing to employ against companies in Europe, governments in the Gulf, and the rest of the world to support its destabilizing activities. Counterfeiting strikes at the heart of the international financial system, and the fact that elements of the government of Iran are involved in this behavior is completely unacceptable,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “This counterfeiting scheme exposes the serious risks faced by anyone doing business with Iran, as the IRGC continues to obscure its involvement in Iran’s economy and hide behind the façade of legitimate businesses to perpetrate its nefarious objectives.”
The US has sanctioned two Iranian nationals and four German and Iran-based companies. Reza Heidari, 40, used two German front companies to “deceive European suppliers, circumvent export restrictions, and acquire advanced printing machinery, security printing machinery, and raw materials” to support the Qods Force’s counterfeit capabilities. As of late 2016, he has been the managing director of Iran-based Rayan Printing. Heidari coordinated with Mahmoud Seif, in his 50s, who has been involved with the logistics of importing the material to Iran. Seif is the managing director of Tejarat Almas Mobin, the parent company of Rayan Printing. He previously ran guns for the Qods Force, according to Treasury.
The individuals and companies are designated for terrorism pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as well as for acting as agents of the IRGC pursuant to the Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulation. As a result, they are added to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN); anyone that does business with these entities is at risk of fines and being blocked from the US financial system.
The United States has formally added Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to its anti terrorism sanctions list on October 13 “for providing support to a number of terrorist groups, including Hizballah and Hamas, as well as to the Taliban.” The Treasury Department statement emphasized that the development did not mean that the United States has designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization.