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US Bans European Banks From Funding Investment in Iran | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A money changer poses for the camera with a US dollar (R) and the amount being given when converting it into Iranian rials (L), at a currency exchange shop in Tehran’s business district, Iran, in this January 20, 2016 file photo. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/TIMA/Files

London – European banks’ sources have revealed that abundant funding projects and deals in Iran were thwarted during the past months due to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) because these operations violate the imposed sanctions on a number of Iranian parties classified on the black lists.

These sanctions were imposed before the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 (US, Russia, China, France and Germany) and they forbid any US individual, company, banks, organizations or institutions of dealing with any party on the black list.

A French banker said, “We have abolished certain operations because we fear expensive fines similar to these imposed on BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Societe Generale Bank Jordan, reaching up to USD15 billion. Some German banks were also fined including: Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank AG.”

In a related matter, a German banker revealed that “most of the business visits by German, French and Swiss delegations to Tehran since the lift of sanctions went in vain. There is a serious concern among huge western banks because they don’t want to take the risk.”

He added that some board members of a European bank were shocked by banning them from travelling to the US and failed to know the reasons behind this decision.

Speaking on the Iranian financial and banking system, European bankers clarify that Iran is listed among the countries uncooperative with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

According to them, the Iranian banking system is absent from international trading since more than 12 years and is professionally unprepared to deal with western banks. A German banker said, “The choice is easy between huge interests in US compared to complicated and risky ones in Iran.”

On the political level, the presidency of Donald Trump represented an additional shock to European bankers, “several plans were suspended until the vision is clear on how strict Trump will go in closing in on Tehran.”

Western bankers said that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was not as moderate as rumored in the beginning of his tenure and Iran is expected to be stricter with the arrival of Trump to the White House. For its part, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) refutes financial and economic openness because it is unwilling to lose control over main facilities in the country — Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei backs it.