US indictment: Iranian company duped US banks

June 20, 2011 21:04


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NEW YORK - Prosecutors in New York have indicted an Iranian shipping company for setting up shell companies so that it could evade sanctions and move millions of dollars through the US financial system.

The Manhattan district attorney's office said on Monday the state-sponsored Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, known as IRISL, used bogus companies to dupe New York-based banks into processing wire payments totaling more than $60 million.

An indictment filed in state court charged the company, which has major shipping centers in Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates, with conspiracy and falsifying business records. Fifteen other defendants are named in the 317-count indictment.

The charges capped a 14-month investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and the US Department of Treasury, which had sanctioned IRISL in 2008 for its role in aiding Iran's ballistic missile development program.

"The point of this indictment is that sanctions exist and they've been in place for a number of years," Vance said. "To make sanctions work they have to be enforced."

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