June 28, 2010 / 11:20 AM / 9 years ago

UAE freezes 41 Iran-linked bank accounts-report

* UAE-Iran ties have drawn scrutiny from Washington

* Dubai re-exports goods worth billions of dollars to Iran

DUBAI, June 28 (Reuters) - The central bank of the United Arab Emirates has told financial institutions in the Gulf Arab country to freeze 41 Iran-linked accounts, in a move based on new U.N. sanctions on Tehran, a UAE daily reported on Monday.

It came a week after another Emirati newspaper said the seven-member UAE federation was “tightening the noose” on companies the United Nations Security Council suspects act as fronts for Iran’s disputed nuclear programme.

The Islamic state and the UAE have close economic and historic relations. Tens of thousands of Iranians live and work in business- and trade-hub Dubai and elsewhere in the UAE, many involved in the multi-billion-dollar re-export trade to Iran.

With Iran facing growing Western pressure, Iran’s ties with Dubai have drawn scrutiny from the United States, which has been spearheading a drive to isolate Tehran over nuclear work the West fears is aimed at making bombs. Iran denies the charge.

The UAE is an ally of Washington, but Dubai’s economy partly depends on trade with nearby countries such as Iran.

“The UAE central bank has told all financial institutions in the UAE ... to freeze 41 accounts and stop remittances in the names of entities and individuals mentioned by the U.N. Security Council (in its June 9 sanctions resolution),” the Emirates Business daily reported on its website on Monday.

It did not give further details and the central bank was not immediately available for comment.

The latest U.N. resolution calls for measures against new Iranian banks abroad if a connection to the nuclear or missile programmes is suspected, as well as vigilance over transactions with any Iranian bank, including the central bank.

It blacklists three firms controlled by Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and 15 belonging to the Revolutionary Guards, whose influence appears to have grown in recent years, and also calls for setting up a cargo inspection regime.

Gulf News, also a UAE newspaper, last week cited official sources as saying that the operations of any companies proved to have connections with the Guards or other entities and individuals subject to a U.N. asset freeze would be shut down.

The UAE has closed down more than 40 firms in a crackdown on illegal dealing in dual-use equipment and materials and money laundering, it said, without specifying when it happened.

Last year Dubai’s re-exports to Iran — goods originally coming from Europe, Asia or elsewhere and then sold on to Iran — rose 4.8 percent to 21.3 billion dirhams ($5.8 billion).

The Institute for Science and International Security, a U.S.-based think tank, said in a 2009 report that countries of “transit concern”, such as the UAE, should step up action to help prevent Iran acquiring items for its nuclear programme. (Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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