Iran is following US plans to appropriate some $2 billion of its assets frozen in Citibank accounts in New York, Central Bank Governor Valiollah Seif says.
US Congress has approved allowing the Americans to claim Iranian funds in a case which is currently before the American Supreme Court, with the Obama administration urging the tribunal to rubber-stamp it.
Over 1,300 Americans are reportedly pressing to receive billions of dollars of the Iranian money in awarded damages over two bombings in Beirut and Saudi Arabia in 1983 and 1996.
On Sunday, Seif said Bank Markazi, the Central Bank of Iran, has a total of $2.5 billion frozen in the US, including the interest on top of the original $1.7 billion held in bank accounts.
“This case is being followed by the Office of the President and Ministry of Foreign Affairs which we hope we will get it to a conclusion,” he told reporters in Tehran on the sidelines of a forum on Islamic finance.
In 2012, President Barack Obama issued an executive order blocking all of Bank Markazi’s assets held in the US in order to prevent Tehran from repatriating them.
At the same time, Congress passed a law which included a provision making it easier for the Americans to use Iranian funds frozen in the US.
Bank Markazi says the US Congress passed the law to change the outcome of the case. It has asked the US federal courts to decide whether that violates the constitutional separation of powers.
The case is currently before the US Supreme Court, with the Obama administration urging it not to overturn the decisions of US circuit and appeals courts to award the purported plaintiffs.
Tehran is already disappointed by Obama’s signing of a Congress bill this month aimed at limiting travels to Iran and trade with the country.
Iran says the law violates a July nuclear accord and amounts to new sanctions on the country.
On Friday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari rapped US judicial decisions, saying American courts were “violating basic principles of international law through recourse to unsubstantiated and baseless allegations”.
“Some US courts are making a travesty of justice and law, having sentenced the Islamic Republic of Iran over the past few years to paying restitution to victims of terror acts carried out by known citizens of US allies,” he said.