EghtesadOnline: In response to reports regarding the closure of Iranian bank accounts by UAE banks, the director general of International Affairs Department at the Central Bank of Iran has announced that the issue is only confined to the Emirates NBD banking group.
“After international sanctions against our banking system were intensified, NBD was one of the first Emirati banks that ended all its correspondent relations with Iran and the bank’s recent announcement concerns only a handful of Iranians who still have an account with them,” Hossein Yaqoubi was also quoted as saying by Navadeeghtesadi.ir.
A few days ago, Emirates NBD, one of the largest banking groups in the Middle East in terms of assets, sent a letter to its Iranian customers to notify them that their accounts do not match the bank’s portfolio criteria and gave them a 30-days deadline to organize their affairs and close their accounts.
The CBI official noted that NBD’s measure is not new since the bank has cut all its ties with Iranian banks for years and has no role in Iran-UAE banking relations, according to Financial Tribune.
However, this is not the first time that an Emirati bank closed Iranian accounts. Back in May, credible sources told Financial Tribune that Emirati banks like UAE’s RAK Bank (National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah) have blocked the accounts of about 400 Iranian companies in the past few weeks and refused to open accounts even for dual nationals.
As US companies are among major shareholders in Emirati banks who are legally barred from doing direct business with Iran, banking restrictions continue to pose major hurdles for Iran’s economy in expanding international transactions, despite the 2015 nuclear deal that promised to lift the embargo against Iran.
According to the head of Iran-Emirates Chamber of Commerce, a letter has been sent to NBD asking the bank to clarify the reason for asking Iranians to close their accounts.
“Usually the main reason for banks’ account closure is anti-money laundering regulations and in a transaction–usually bigger than $30,000-40,000–if a foreign bank does not clear the source of the money with legal evidence, the account will be closed,” Masoud Daneshmand also said.
Daneshmand, who is also a member of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, noted that Iranian businesspeople have faced account closure for the past 30 years, but the pressures have significantly increased in the last 12 years.
This is while Yaqoubi denied the closure of Iranian students’ bank accounts in Malaysia and noted that it was only a technical issue.
“A few Iranian students in Malaysia used the services of unauthorized money exchangers to transfer money and their remittances bounced, but we are following up the matter to replace those exchange shops with credible ones and resolve their problem,” he concluded.