US says $3.5bn gold is ‘just a fraction’ of $16bn of jewellery seized in Iran
The US has told the European Union to seize more than $3bn of gold and silver jewellery in Iran to prove its assets are not being diverted.
Key points:A US Treasury spokesman said the jewellery was not intended for Iran but was seized as part of an investigation into suspected drug smugglingA European Commission spokeswoman said it was “extremely unlikely” the jewellers were involved in drug trafficking”In March, the US and EU agreed to a plan to crack down on Iran’s illicit drug trade, with the US also demanding Tehran’s nuclear programme be frozen and Tehran to pay $100bn in reparations.
A Treasury spokesman on Wednesday said the US had asked the EU to seize $3,518,000 of jeweller-related assets in Tehran and to pay the money to the US Treasury.
He said the “investigation” had been launched to find “any evidence that Iran’s central bank is facilitating money laundering or is otherwise misusing its monetary assets”.
The European Commission said it had informed the US that it was conducting a similar investigation into the jeweller-related money.
It said it did not believe the jewells were involved with illegal activities, but added: “The Commission is currently in the process of identifying the specific assets and entities of interest and will provide a full statement in due course.”
The EU’s Foreign Affairs chief said the seizure of jewells was “in line with the EU’s policy” to fight money laundering.
Iran is widely considered to be the world’s largest drug producer and is also suspected of financing terrorist organisations.
But the seizure came as US President Donald Trump, in a speech in March, vowed to crackdown on the drug trade if he is re-elected next month.”
I have been in contact with our European allies and they have also told me they will be ready to do whatever it takes to shut down the drug supply,” Mr Trump said at the time.