Iran is attempting to set up undercover banks across the Muslim world, hiding the institutions’ origins with fake names and misleading bureaucracy, the Washington Post reports. Iran is keeping establishments in countries like Iraq and Malaysia shrouded in secrecy as a means of working around tough sanctions, including the Treasury Department’s blacklisting of 16 banks over reported ties to terrorism and nuclear ambitions.
Iran wants “to buy banks and set up banks in various places where they believe they will be able to carry out business without the United States being able to impede it,” says an administration official. Iran’s finance minister acknowledged some difficulties posed by the sanctions, but said “the world is big, and the people who are trading [with us] find ways to transfer money. When you block the stream of water, it goes another route.”