Government envoy: German authorities strictly control on German bank cooperating with Iran
Azerbaijan, Baku, April 2 /Trend, T.Konyayeva/
Currently there are no grounds for imposing financial sanctions against the European-Iranian commercial bank because of the suspicion of its involvement in financing Iran's nuclear program, but the German authorities carried out a strict and constant monitoring of bank's all operations. This was declared in a statement of a joint press conference of government officials in Germany, sent to Trend from the German Foreign Ministry.
"European-Iranian commercial bank, in accordance with the decision of the European Union (EU) dated July 26, 2010 № 961/2010, is currently not subject to financial sanctions, said the spokesman of the Finance Ministry of Germany Shneyd. - Regarding the alleged involvement of the Bank in financing the nuclear and missile programs of Iran, I can say that the bank is under strict and constant supervision by the German regulatory authorities."
Recently the U.S. pressure on Germany has intensified because of India's use of the European-Iranian commercial bank (Europäisch-Iranische Handelsbank (EIH) in making payments for the oil purchase from Iran. Washington believes the funds can help finance Iran's programs on developing nuclear weapons, The New York Times reports.
In September 2010, the U.S. Treasury Department accused the EIH Bank of making payments to facilitate the financing of Iran's nuclear program, including $3 million in 2007 to acquire material for Iran's missile programs, and in mediation for several Iranian banks, which are closely linked to government. The U.S. Department has added the EIH Bank in its list of financial institutions whose activities are blocked.
In addition, Shneyd said the control on the bank in place is also carried out by two officials from the Ministry.
"Close monitoring and control continue on the activities of the bank, he said. - The federal government carefully considers all incoming information, especially from the partner countries."
The U.S. Treasury Department alleges that the EIH Bank provides financial services to a number of organizations named in the "black list" of the EU document, which came into force in October 2010. One is the Bank Mellat in Tehran, which, according to the EU, contributes to the Iranian program to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
According to the report of the Bank for 2009, more than 25 percent of shares in EIH Bank is owned by Bank Mellat and Bank of Industry and Mines of Iran that the U.S. Treasury Department has included in the list of institutions controlled by the government of Iran.
The U.S. has expressed concern over reports that the German authorities gave permission to the EIH Bank to conduct India's payments for Iranian oil. Privately, Washington has threatened to fine organizations that do business with it and other banks blacklisted by the USA.
The German Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke said that it needs to determine whether the activities of the bank have any relation to illicit nuclear program of Iran.
"If this fact is proved, then the payments will surely be suspended, he said. - But if the accusations are unfounded, then, even with the existing sanctions, there is no legitimate reason to ban financial transactions carried out by them."
Peschke said that the bank was not named in the list of entities subject to sanctions. "So, there are no legal grounds to stop its activities," he said.
The U.S. and other Western countries accuse Iran of developing nuclear weapons for military purposes under the guise of peaceful nuclear energy program. UN Security Council (SC) has adopted four UN resolutions on sanctions against Iran, urging Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment activities.
Resolutions approved by the UN Security Council, as well as additional unilateral sanctions adopted by the U.S. Congress and the Foreign Ministries of EU countries, primarily focused on the energy, banking and financial sector of Iran.
The EU froze the assets of dozens of companies and individuals, including several banks, suspected of supporting Iran's program to develop nuclear weapons. EIH Bank was not included in the list, and EU regulations do not prohibit payments for Iran's oil and gas.
Peschke added that Germany insists on implementing in the UN the EU decision to adopt additional sanctions. "Germany is also insistently trying to enforce the UN and EU resolutions, which will be implemented strictly and consistently," he said.
Peschke said the federal government is well aware of the complexity of the issue, so the bank will be subject to constant monitoring.
"If to assume that after a series of such inspections it will be revealed that the bank is involved in operations subject to the sanctions, the question will be debated in the EU," he said.
Answering the question on consultation of Germany with the U.S., Peschke said that the sanctions against Iran are a constant subject of negotiations of Germany with its international partners.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert also said that the German authorities have been making strict control over the activities of the bank for some time.
"Each payment and transfer of funds through the bank amounting to more than 10,000 euros to an individual or organization in Iran should be reported, and each payment of more than 40,000 euros must get permission, he said. - Permission will not be issued on the banned [sanctioned] operations, which may have at least some relation to the nuclear program."
In December 2010 the National Iranian Oil Company refused to accept payments for oil from the Indian companies after the Reserve Bank of India imposed a ban on the national companies' using a major regional payment arrangements network - Asian Clearing Union - in operations for oil and gas imports.
In early February, India and Iran decided to introduce a new mechanism for payment by India, one of the main importers of Iranian oil (about 15 percent). Under the new payment mechanism, the Indian oil companies will transfer funds to the account of the National Iranian Oil Company in EIH Bank through the Reserve Bank of India.
Asian Clearing Union was established in 1974 with headquarters in Tehran. This system includes 8 countries of South Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
UN's tightening economic sanctions against Iran has increased the amount of transactions that Iranian companies conduct through this payment system. So, if in 2009 Iran made $7.8 billion through this system, for the first 11 months of 2010, the figure totaled $12 billion. A substantial part of the financial operations of Iranian companies accounts for India.