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US targets network for evading Iran sanctions

Josh Lederman, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. is blacklisting an Iranian businessman, a Malaysian bank and a string of companies for allegedly attempting to evade economic sanctions against Iran.

The Treasury Department said Thursday that Babak Morteza Zanjani operated a network of front companies to help Iran access oil revenues in violation of U.S. sanctions. The department said the network moved billions of dollars, including tens of millions to a company controlled by Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard force.

The Malaysia-based First Islamic Investment Bank is also being blacklisted.

The actions freeze any assets the companies may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.

The sanctions are intended to pressure Tehran over its nuclear program. The U.S. believes Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons, a charge that Iran denies.