EghtesadOnline: Only an insignificant volume of Iranian assets frozen overseas remain inaccessible, the Central Bank of Iran’s deputy for foreign exchange affairs said.
“Problems related to the blockage of Iranian assets are mostly rooted in banking correspondent relations. For instance, it is possible that we have deposits in a country where our correspondent relations have yet to be established,” Gholamali Kamyab also told IBENA.
According to the official, the main reason for Iranian assets remaining blocked overseas is a lack of political ties. He, however, reminded that the country has nevertheless been able to free a significant volume of its assets.
“Assets remaining in a particular country, not yet released as a result of sanctions, are not many. In other words, we have blocked assets, but their number is not very big,” Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.
According to CBI, $9.9 billion of its frozen oil money were released and repatriated from the UAE, Britain, India, Greece, Italy and Norway following the implementation of the nuclear accord, apart from the release of $12 billion from Japan, South Korea and India.
As part of the Geneva interim agreement, which was signed in November 2013 and its two subsequent extensions, a total of $11.2 billion of Iranian assets were freed and the amount reached $30 billion since the agreement’s implementation.
CBI Governor Valiollah Seif has denied the presence of any obstacles for bringing the freed money to Iran, saying that the country prefers to keep those assets abroad.
Noting that only $1.5 billion worth of bonds are left in western countries, Kamyab noted that the total amount stood at $3.7 billion, only $1.5 of which are inaccessible.
“We also have assets in a neighboring country,” he added, without elaborating.
According to the official, a number of correspondent banks have the ability to transfer funds, but other banks are unable to do so.
Therefore, in a number of countries where Iran had blocked assets, the country was able to transfer the funds through banks and did so.
“The funds were transferred from the source country to another country and from there, they would be transferred to other countries,” meaning that the blocked assets were transferred to Iran through a second country.
This was done because “a major bank with various branches” existed in the second country, but with regard to a number of countries, the funds could not be transferred this way “and when the issue of freeing blocked Iranian assets is brought forward, we must pay attention to this [obstacle]”.
Iran has currently $2 billion of its assets frozen by the US. In a decision that was also green lit by the US Supreme Court last year, Iran was held financially responsible for a 1983 bombing in Beirut that killed 241 US Marines.
However, Iran has not relinquished its claim on those assets and lodged a complaint at the International Court of Justice last summer to clarify the issue.
In another case, $1.6 billion of assets belonging to the Central Bank of Iran were also frozen by a judge in Luxembourg. A group of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks in the US have brought the first-of-its-kind case against Iran that led to the freezing of assets. Iranian officials have expressed confidence that the case will eventually end in Iran’s favor and the judge will rule that the victims have no right to use that money as compensation.