WASHINGTON (CN) – The Syria International Islamic Bank has been acting as a front for two other banks banned from doing business in the United States because of their association with weapons of mass destruction, the Treasury Department said.
Executive Order 13382, signed by President George W. Bush in 2005, aimed to freeze the assets of regimes holding or seeking weapons of mass destruction. It allows the secretary of the Treasury, after consultation with the State Department and the attorney general to impose a ban on all transactions with designated entities.
This is the sixth time the order has been invoked against a Syrian entity, according to the Treasury announcement and the State Department website. The most common targets of the order have been North Korea, Iran, and individuals and entities associate with the A.Q. Khan uranium-enrichment scheme.
The Treasury Department says the bank moved almost $150 million on behalf of Commercial Bank of Syria and the Syrian Lebanese Commercial Bank. Those entities were sanctioned under the executive order in August 2011.
“Today’s action will add to the economic pressure on the Assad regime by closing off a key evasion route,” according to a statement from David Cohen, the under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. “The Treasury Department, working with others around the world who share our goal of ending the brutal repression of the Syrian people, will continue to close off the Assad regime’s access to the international financial system.”
The Treasury says it consulted with the government of Qatar on the designation, and that that nation is taking “corresponding actions” to isolate the bank.