FinCEN Finalizes Financial Measure Against Iraq-based Al-Huda Bank to Combat Terrorist Financing

Immediate Release

WASHINGTON—Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a final rule under section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act (section 311) that severs Al-Huda Bank from the United States financial system by prohibiting domestic financial institutions and agencies from opening or maintaining a correspondent account for or on behalf of Al-Huda Bank, an Iraqi bank that serves as a conduit for terrorist financing.

“As Iraq continues to make progress in its efforts to address illicit finance-related vulnerabilities in its financial system, we remain focused on preventing Iran and its proxies from exploiting these gaps to facilitate their destabilizing terrorist activities,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “Today’s final rule severs this key channel for money laundering and terrorist financing, ensuring both the integrity of the Iraqi and international financial systems as well as the continued development of legitimate business and trade.”

On January 31, 2024, FinCEN issued a finding and notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that identified Al-Huda Bank as a foreign financial institution of primary money laundering concern. As described in the finding, Al-Huda Bank has for years exploited its access to U.S. dollars to support designated foreign terrorist organizations, including Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and IRGC-Quds Force, as well as Iran-aligned Iraqi militias Kata’ib Hizballah and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq. Moreover, the chairman of Al-Huda Bank is complicit in Al-Huda Bank’s illicit financial activities, including money laundering through front companies that conceal the true nature of and parties involved in illicit transactions, ultimately enabling the financing of terrorism.

FinCEN is taking this section 311 action to protect the United States financial system from Al-Huda Bank’s illicit activity. Pursuant to this final rule, covered financial institutions are now prohibited from opening or maintaining correspondent accounts for or on behalf of Al-Huda Bank, and are required to take reasonable steps not to process transactions for the correspondent account of a foreign banking institution in the United States if such a transaction involves Al-Huda Bank, preventing indirect access by Al-Huda Bank to the United States financial system. This final rule also requires covered financial institutions to apply special due diligence to their foreign correspondent accounts that is reasonably designed to guard against their use to process transactions involving Al-Huda Bank.

The final rule, as submitted to the Federal Register, is available here.

The January 31, 2024 NPRM is available here.