File - A general view of the Central Bank of Iran building in Tehran January 23, 2006. REUTERS/MORTEZA NIKOUBAZL
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At least $1 billion in cash has been smuggled into Iran as it seeks to avoid Western sanctions, a bigger figure than previously reported, Iranian officials, Western intelligence and diplomatic sources say.In December, the U.S. Treasury said the Iranian government had obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in bank notes using front companies.These sources said at least $1 billion in U.S. bank notes had been smuggled into Iran in recent months, with the Iranian central bank playing an important role.Western and Iranian sources said Iran's central bank had in recent months worked with other entities, including other sanctioned Iranian companies, to find ways to obtain U.S. dollars, including using front companies and their networks.Iran says the sanctions are illegal and has vowed to sidestep them.Iranian and Western diplomatic sources said as much as $500 million in cash was funneled to Iran through traders in Iraq. The Iranian and Western sources said another $500 million was obtained for Iran by two Dubai-based front companies that have been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury.
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