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Bahrain: Higher Court of Appeal toughens up sentences in Future Bank money laundering case

The Higher Court of Appeal issued its verdict in the violations case of the Future Bank (FB) and ruled unanimously to convict six officials from the bank and a number of legal persons for money laundering. The case included the Future Bank, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and a number of Iranian banks, Chancellor Wael Boallay, Senior Advocate General and Deputy Attorney General, has stated.

The Higher Court of Appeal handed down imprisonment sentences to the FB officials ranging from five to ten years and fined each BD 1 million for each of the 166 money laundering operations, an amount equal to the number of operations in which each of them participated in money laundering crimes. The court also imposed a BD 50,000 fine on everyone of them on charges of violating the provisions of the regulations and decisions issued under the Money Laundering Law and misdemeanours related to the crime of money laundering. The court also ordered to deport the convicts from the country after carrying out the sentence.

The Higher Court of Appeal also ruled to fine FB, CBI and other implicated Iranian banks BD 1 million each for each of the 166 money laundering operations, an amount equal to the number of operations carried out by the legal persons, in addition to the confiscation penalty.

The Higher Court of Appeal has re-considered the case after it was returned to it by the Court of Cassation and accepted the appeal submitted by the Public Prosecution requesting that the contested judgment be corrected for the error it had in applying the law and demanding the punishment be toughened up in accordance with the requirements of the law. The court considered the reasons and justifications for the appeal and the evidence presented in the lawsuit, and accordingly issued its afore-mentioned verdict.

The Public Prosecution previously announced that investigations had uncovered a large-scale money laundering scheme operating through Future Bank, which was established in Bahrain and is controlled by two other banks owned by the Republic of Iran, namely the National Bank of Iran (Melli) and Bank Saderat Iran. The scheme approved illegal financial transactions for the benefit of Iranian entities, most notably the Central Bank of Iran.

Intensive investigations revealed illegal banking practices and found that the Central Bank of Iran issued instructions to the Future Bank on the use of an alternative and unapproved transfer system to complete banking operations for the purpose of concealing the source and movement of funds transferred through it and for the benefit of Iranian banks.

The purpose of this was to circumvent international sanctions imposed on Iranian entities that were designed to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The unlawful practices exploited the National Bank of Iran (Melli) and Bank Saderat Iran’s control over Future Bank and its policies, both of these banks were acting under the direction of the government of Iran and the Central Bank of Iran.

By following these instructions, Future Bank officials, in conjunction with other officials of Iranian banks and the Central Bank of Iran, carried out the sending, transferring and receiving of more than USD 1.3 billion through the alternative system, as part of a large-scale money laundering scheme.

Further investigations are ongoing, including international transactions by the Future Bank and the Iranian ones in contravention of the Law on the Prohibition and Combating of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, as well as banking laws and regulations. It is expected that more people involved in the scheme will be revealed in preparation for referring these cases to criminal trials.


Bahrain News Agency

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