Sen. Cruz, Rep. Gallagher Introduce the Blocking Iranian Illicit Finance Act
Bill seeks to impose maximum pressure on Iranian regime, reinforce American sanctions
December 14, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.), member of the House Armed Services Committee, on Thursday introduced the Blocking Iranian Illicit Finance Act. The bill seeks to counter the Iranian regime’s money laundering and financing of terrorism, protect the global financial system from Iranian illicit finance, and impose maximum financial pressure on Iran.
“The Obama Iran nuclear deal gifted the Ayatollahs with hundreds of billions of dollars and reconnected them to the global financial system, which they used launder even more money and fund even more terrorism” Sen. Cruz said. “Undoing that damage requires imposing maximum pressure against the Iranian regime. President Trump was absolutely right when he began that process by withdrawing from the nuclear deal. Effectively disconnecting Iran from the global financial system, which this bill does, is a necessary next step. I look forward to working more with the administration and my Congressional colleagues to ensure this bill becomes law during the next Congress.”
"Withdrawing from the JCPOA was only the first step in ratcheting up pressure on the Iranian regime. We now have an important window to impose maximum economic pressure and degrade the Iranian regime’s ability to export violence across the region. This legislation does exactly that by effectively cutting Iran off from the international financial community. Its message is clear: Iran must pay a steep price for its aggressive and destabilizing behavior, and the United States will never tolerate its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” Rep. Gallagher said.
U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), and Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Jacki Walorski (R-Ind.), Peter King (R-N.Y.), and Don Bacon (R-Neb.) also joined as original cosponsors of the bill.
“This important legislation would empower the United States and our like-minded allies to do more to end the Iranian government’s ability to illicitly finance its dangerous efforts to sponsor terrorism and militancy, to advance its nuclear and missile programs, to egregiously abuse human rights in Iran and abroad, and to suppress the Iranian people’s aspirations for self-determination,” Sen. Rubio said. “I look forward to working with fellow lawmakers and the Administration to enact this legislation and fully implement the maximum pressure against the regime in Tehran.”
“The ayatollahs will find it much more difficult to sponsor terrorism, launder money, and research and develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles without access to the global financial system,” Sen. Cotton said. “This bill supports the administration’s maximum pressure campaign to curb Tehran’s malign activities, and Congress needs to send it to the President’s desk.”
“The current Iranian regime is one of the world’s largest sponsors of global terrorism has shown no interest in discontinuing their support,” said Sen. Tillis. “This critical legislation will block Iran’s dishonest financial dealings and send a clear message that the United States will not tolerate the bad actions of this regime.”
“The United States needs to take strong action against Iran for financing and arming terrorists around the globe,” said Sen. Gardner. “The Blocking Iranian Illicit Finance Act will cut off Iran’s access to financial institutions around the world and have a direct impact on their ability to support terrorism and destabilize the region. The Senate needs to act on this legislation and show Iran the United States will not tolerate their behavior.”
“Leveraging the global finance system against Iran and other rogue nations that sponsor terrorism is a position I’m happy to take,” Sen. Hyde-Smith said.
“Iran is the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism and the biggest destabilizing force in the Middle East,” said Sen. Young. “This legislation would further cut off the Iranian regime from the global financial system, imposing increasingly severe consequences for their terrorist activities, pursuit of WMDs, and ongoing human rights abuses.”
“I am proud to cosponsor this important legislation which will further impede the Iranian regime’s ability to spread death, chaos, and misery throughout the Middle East,” Rep. Lamborn said. “We were promised by the Obama Administration that opening up Iran to international markets would encourage them to cease exporting terror around the world. Instead of spending the new revenue on improving the lives of the Iranian people, the despots in Tehran squandered the wealth supporting murderous dictators, terror groups, and foreign wars. This important legislation cuts Tehran out of the financial markets, further limiting their ability to spread their fanatical terror abroad.”
“Congress should step up to the plate and condemn Iran for its support for terrorism throughout the world,” Rep. Banks said. “Limiting Iran’s access to the SWIFT network will finally initiate the change the we need to see in the Middle East.”
“Very simply, we need to increase pressure on the Iranian financial sector to effectively shut down those banks or financial institutions involved in terrorism, WMDs, money laundering or human rights violations. I commend Rep. Gallagher for his efforts,” Rep. Peter King said.
In August, Sen. Cruz sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, urging him to take all necessary steps to ensure the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) disconnects the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and all other designated Iranian financial institutions.