"I can assure you that we are looking very, very carefully at any evidence that anyone outside Iran is selling gold to Iran," he said.
The remark came after Rep. Edward R. Royce, California Republican and the US Foreign Affairs Committee's chairman, asked whether the administration was aware of recent reports indicating an uptick in the flow of gold into Iran.
"With its currency now in free fall, the Iranians desperately need gold," said Mr. Royce, who noted that a U.S. law authorizing the Obama administration to sanction anyone selling gold to citizens inside Iran does not take effect until July 1.
With existing U.S. law only allowing sanctions on the sale of gold directly to the Iranian government, Mr. Cohen told lawmakers the administration is keeping a close eye on the situation.
While Mr. Cohen acknowledged that U.S. authorities have "no question that there is gold going from Turkey to Iran," he said that "in large measure what we're seeing is private Iranian citizens buying gold as a protection to the falling value" of Iran's currency, the rial.
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