UPDATE 1-U.S. urges greater diligence by banks on Iran sanctions

Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:15am EST

WASHINGTON Jan 10 (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury urged U.S. banks on Thursday to exercise greater diligence in dealing with foreign trading firms and exchange houses that may seek to evade sanctions on Iran.

"The purpose of this advisory is to alert U.S. financial institutions to practices being used to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran and, accordingly, to suggest enhanced due diligence," the Treasury said in its advisory.

"The advisory is not intended to suggest that U.S. financial institutions close accounts they hold for third-country exchange houses and/or trading companies," it added.

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said evasive practices could include failing to disclose that funds to be transferred may originate or be destined for Iranians.

The United States and the European Union, often accompanied by other states, have erected increasingly complex financial sanctions against Iran, which Washington and its allies suspect of pursuing nuclear weapons.

Iran denies this, saying its atomic program is for peaceful purposes.