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200 Foreign Banks Start Business Links with Iran: CBI

17 June 2016 12:13

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Central Bank of Iran (CBI) said some 200 foreign banks have so far forged business ties with Iran since the implementation of a lasting nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers in January.

“Two hundred small and medium-sized international banks have started correspondent relationships with Iranian banks,” CBI said in an emailed response to questions by Reuters.

It further said that Iranian banks are now opening accounts and letters of credit with foreign banks and conducting “currency transfers in the form of issuing payment orders for foreign exchange services and imports”.

Main banking relationships had been formed with institutions in Asia and Europe, and to a lesser extent in the Americas and Africa, including Germany-based Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank AG (EIH) and two Italian lenders, Mediobanca and Banca Popolare di Sondrio, the report added.

However, some major European banks are still tentative to re-engage with Iranian financial entities despite the nuclear deal.

The banks’ conservatism and wait-and-see approach comes from the fear they could face US legal action if they move to reestablish links with Iran.

Based on the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Washington has agreed to lift “secondary sanctions” related to Iran’s nuclear program but its “primary sanctions” linked to baseless terrorism and human rights accusations still remain in place.

Several Iranian officials have warned European banks that they might miss out on opportunities provided by the lifting of sanctions if they continue to dawdle on returning to the country.

Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takhtravanchi said back in March that European banks are overcautious in forging renewed connections with Iran, warning that they “will fall behind under the new situation.”

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