Reuters: Iran has withdrawn assets from European banks in an attempt to evade international sanctions over the Islamic state’s disputed nuclear programme, a senior Iranian official said on Friday.
TEHRAN Aug 27 (Reuters) – Iran has withdrawn assets from European banks in an attempt to evade international sanctions over the Islamic state’s disputed nuclear programme, a senior Iranian official said on Friday.
The United States, United Nations and the European Union have imposed a series of new restrictions on Iran earlier this year over its nuclear enrichment activities, which the West fears could lead it to make a bomb. Iran says it needs nuclear technology to generate power.
“Assets of Iranian banks have been withdrawn from European banks … Iran’s Central Bank … was prepared for any such scenarios since six months ago,” Mahmoud Bahmani, head of the Central Bank of Iran, told the semi-official Fars news agency.
He gave no details on where the funds might be heading or exactly when the transfers had been made.
U.S. President Barack Obama on July 1 signed a law imposing tough new sanctions on Iran’s banking and energy sectors.
Analysts say Switzerland, home to more offshore wealth than any other country, could be a possible destination for Iran’s foreign assets. Other possible destinations include banks in Asia and the Middle East.
There are few figures available on the size of Iranian overseas holdings but moving them would have major implications for financial markets.
Earlier this month, Bahmani said Iran had increased its foreign currency reserves by $9 billion by selling gold and through foreign exchange transactions.
However, he did not disclose the total amount of Iran’s reserves, nor did Bahmani specified how much gold was sold or over what time period.
Iran has warned it would stop trading with countries that imposed restrictions on its assets abroad in the face of tightening international sanctions.
The fourth round of U.N. resolution calls for measures against new Iranian banks abroad if a connection to the nuclear or missile programmes is suspected, as well as vigilance over transactions with any Iranian bank, including the central bank.
The country’s hardline authorities say sanctions have no impact on the Islamic state and have found ways to adapt to them.
“Iranian banks face no difficulties because of the imposed sanctions … Such restrictions have no impact on our banks,” Bahmani said.
(Writing by Parisa Hafezi, editing by Patrick Graham)