Why big Euro Banks are Reluctant to Return to Iran

By Arash Karami, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

Iran’s largest bank is eager to resume ties with major European banks, but only smaller financial institutions have been willing to return to the Iranian market in the aftermath of a landmark nuclear deal.

In an interview May 3 with Al-Monitor on the sidelines of a conference in Zurich, Mostafa Beheshti Rouy, an executive board member of Bank Pasargad, attributed this reluctance to multibillion-dollar settlement agreements reached by major European banks with the US Justice Department over prior sanctions violations.

He suggested that the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) could reassure these banks that there are no prohibitions on resuming legitimate business with Iran.

Iranian officials have expressed frustration with the slow pace of tangible economic benefits they have seen since implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Jan. 16. A key impediment has been Iran’s difficulty in fully reconnecting to the international financial system.

Beheshti Rouy said the sanctions undercut Iranian banks and forced trade financing into murky channels. His bank, which was founded in 2005, handled $11 billion worth of trade financing in 2011-12, he said, but its market share collapsed to $1 billion the following year under sanctions.

“We should let the banking sector handle the payments,” he said. “This can easily be monitored.”

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