Economy, Business And Markets

Greece Vetoes EU Sanctions Renewal for Iran's Saderat Bank

Bank Saderat in Athens, Greece.  Bank Saderat in Athens, Greece.

Greece defied EU and US pressure last month to reapply sanctions on the Iranian bank Saderat, the first sign of dissent inside the European Union on Iran, media claimed on Tuesday.

As reported by Sputnik, Saderat, one of Iran’s largest banks partly controlled by the state, was one of three banks kept on the EU list for another eight years.

A Greek official told the Wall Street Journal there were “firm instructions” from Athens to veto extending an asset freeze past October 22, after a top EU court upheld the bank’s challenge in April.

Under the July 2015 multinational nuclear deal with Iran, which lifted most financial sanctions on Tehran, Saderat was one of just three banks kept on the EU’s sanctions list for as long as eight years. Washington has the bank under sanctions indefinitely for terror financing.

In April, however, the EU’s top court upheld the bank’s challenge to the EU sanctions, arguing the 28-nation bloc had provided insufficient evidence to back up its claim that Saderat was carrying out illicit activities.

The court allowed the EU to maintain the asset freeze for six months under an amended charge, a period that ended on Oct. 22.

Throughout that period, France and the UK worked to ensure the sanctions would be extended beyond October, seeking new evidence that Saderat was involved in illicit activities.

While there were doubts about the EU’s chance of winning a fresh legal challenge, 27 of the EU’s 28 governments were prepared to extend the sanctions, according to senior European and Greek officials. Greece alone was opposed.

The United States has Saderat on its list of financial institutions allegedly funding groups Washington believes to be terrorists, including Hamas and Hezbollah.

According to WSJ, the US Treasury and Congress people asked Athens not to hinder sanctions renewal and warned Greece it would “pay a price”.

In July last year, Iran signed a historic deal with Russia, the United States, China, Britain, France and Germany where Iran pledged to temporarily curb its nuclear research in exchange for sanctions relief that has not been fully extended by the six signatories.

A month ago, Iran’s Central Bank Governor Valiollah Seif held meetings in Athens with senior bankers and the country’s Vice President Yannis Dragasakis.


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