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FT reports that Iran used Santander and Lloyds to Evade US Sanctions.


The Financial Times has reported that Iran evaded sanctions and was able to covertly move money around the world using accounts at two of the UK’s biggest banks, Lloyds Banking Group Plc and Santander UK. The FT reported that the lenders provided accounts to front companies secretly owned by a sanctioned Iranian petrochemical company. The newspaper reported on Sunday, citing documents it viewed. Iran’s intelligence services backed the sanctions-evasion plan.


The FT said:-

  • The state-controlled Petrochemical Commercial Company [PCC] and its British subsidiary have been under US sanctions since 2018.
  • The firm is accused of raising money for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force as well as cooperating with Russia to fund Iranian-backed proxy militias,

The FT reported, citing documents it analysed, that:-

  • the petrochemical company has also used companies in the UK to “receive funds from Iranian front entities in China while concealing their real ownership through ‘trustee agreements and nominee directors. "

The PCC and its British subsidiary, PCC UK, have been under US sanctions since November 2018.

Documents, emails,, and accounting records show that during this time, PCC’s UK division continued to operate out of an office in Grosvenor Gardens in Belgravia, using a complex web of front entities in Britain and other countries.

PCC UK’s Belgravia office is also the registered address for NIOC International Affairs (London) Ltd, a division of Iran’s US-sanctioned national oil company, which Washington has claimed directly finances the IRGC and Iranian military activity for years.

According to the UK corporate registry, Pisco UK is owned by a British national called Abdollah-Siauash Fahimi. However, internal documents, some of which have been leaked online by the Iranian opposition website WikiIran, show that PCC fully controls Pisco, and that Fahimi signed an agreement to own the company in trust on its behalf.

Fahimi has used a PCC email address for correspondence with company officials in Tehran. According to UK corporate filings, He was a PCC UK director from April 2021 until February 2022.

In 2021, Pisco’s Santander account received a transfer from a Chinese company called Black Tulip, which internal PCC records show is another trustee company controlled by a PCC employee.

Last year, the US Treasury accused Iranian petrochemical companies of using multiple front entities to evade sanctions by routing sales through Asia.

Another PCC front company in the UK is Aria Associates, which has an account with Lloyds. It is officially owned by Mohamed Ali Rejal, who, according to internal emails, is the deputy chief executive of PCC UK and has regularly communicated with company officials in Tehran.

Emails show that in July 2021, a PCC accounting official in Tehran emailed Rejal about a planned payment from China, telling him,

  • “Please send us the safe account No.

For payment.” Rejal instructed the accounting official to transfer the money into Aria Associates’ Lloyds account, writing:

  • “Please make sure that there should not be any indication of PCC or PCC (UK).”

Other documents seen by the FT show that as PCC continued to operate in the UK, it also entered contracts for equipment procurement with a Turkish company called ASB, which was placed under sanctions by the US government for working with senior IRGC officials last year.

Audit reports for PCC UK from 2021 seen by the FT also show the company has maintained large trading balances with PCC in Iran since being placed under sanctions by the US, allowing it to continue operating despite Western banks being blocked from doing business with the company.



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