Reuters: Swiss bank UBS is cutting ties with all of its customers in Iran because of high compliance costs, a spokesman said on Sunday, adding that the decision was not driven by political motives. ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss bank UBS is cutting ties with all of its customers in Iran because of high compliance costs, a spokesman said on Sunday, adding that the decision was not driven by political motives.
“We started to exit customer relationships with counterparties in Iran in autumn last year,” UBS spokesman Serge Steiner said.
“This holds true for all our business units and for all UBS’s regions around the world,” he added.
Separately, a source close to the company said the world’s sixth-largest bank was also severing relationships with Syrian clients. UBS declined to comment.
The news comes two days after Iran — embroiled in a standoff with the West over its nuclear programme — said it was moving foreign holdings to shield them from possible U.N. sanctions.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry earlier on Sunday flatly denied, however, that any currency had been transferred, contradicting previous statements from central bank Governor Ebrahim Sheibani.
Iranian clients hold 1.4 billion Swiss francs in assets in Swiss banks, according to central bank data. Most of that money is with the country’s two biggest banks, UBS and Credit Suisse.
Both UBS and Credit Suisse had declined to comment on Friday about their relationships with clients in Iran.
UBS’s Steiner said that the decision to pull out of Iran had been made after finding that high compliance costs, because of uncertainty regarding regulatory and security matters, were not likely to be outweighed by benefits it expected from business with the country.
Steiner said the decision was not made to protect ties with the United States, where it does a huge part of its business and which is one of Tehran’s fiercest opponents in the global political arena.
“It’s not a political decision. It’s purely a business decision that is taking many factors into account,” he said.