US wants Iran bank probed

The United States has asked Greece to take measures against the local subsidiary of Iran’s Bank Saderat which it suspects of funding Islamist militants, the US Embassy in Athens said yesterday. Spokesperson Carol Kalin said Greek authorities have been asked to «investigate» the bank as US allies have been urged to take «similar or comparable measures» to those adopted by Washington. The US last month blacklisted Bank Melli and Bank Mellat, accused of providing banking services for Iran’s nuclear agencies, and Bank Saderat, which allegedly funnels funds to Islamist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas. «As we announced on October 25, we had a new round of US sanctions on certain Iranian entities, including Bank Saderat. This is part of our effort to advance diplomacy on Iran,» Kalin told AFP. «We have asked our allies to take similar or comparable measures to those we’ve taken,» Kalin said. «We have a good working relationship with Greece on these matters, and we follow up regularly.» «The instructions to US diplomatic missions around the world were to take this up at a high level,» she said. Greek daily To Vima reported that US officials raised the issue with the head of the independent Greek authority on money laundering. Kalin declined to go into further details about talks on the issue. The US State Department maintains that Bank Saderat and its approximate 3,200 branches have been used by the Iranian government to channel funds to militants including Hezbollah, Hamas, PFLP-GC, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The bank from 2001 to 2006 transferred $50 million from the Central Bank of Iran to its branch in Beirut via London for the benefit of Hezbollah fronts in Lebanon, and has also transferred several million dollars to Hamas, the State Department says. (AFP)