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Iran’s Melli Bank: the target of sanctions

3 hours ago

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran’s Bank Melli, the newest target for European sanctions
against Tehran over its nuclear defiance, is the oldest bank in the country
and has already been hit by punitive measures from the West.

In October 2007, the United States included Bank Melli in a broad range of
sanctions measures against Iranian institutions on the grounds that it
provided banking services to the nuclear drive and the elite Revolutionary

Those sanctions forbid any financial transactions between a US citizen or
private organisation. All assets under US jurisdiction of those targeted
were immediately frozen.

The latest UN Security Council sanctions passed against Iran in March also
urged “vigilance” in dealing with banks inside the Islamic republic,
including Bank Melli, which is believed to be the biggest in Iran.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the latest measures after
talks with US President George W. Bush in London on Monday.

“Today Britain will urge Europe, and Europe will agree to take further
sanctions against Iran,” Brown said at a joint press conference. “We will
take action today that will freeze the overseas assets of the biggest bank
in Iran, the Melli Bank.”

Bank Melli Iran (Iran National Bank) was founded on September 11, 1928
during the rule of shah Reza Pahlavi who wanted to modernise Iran’s economy
to bring it in line with European countries.

Its founding was helped by aide from Reza Pahlavi’s close ally Germany and
German officials ran the bank during its early years.

The bank currently employs more than 45,000 men and women, and it has more
than 3,100 branches in Iran and 16 branches outside the Islamic republic.

It is 100 percent state owned and although Iran is intending to partly
privatise other state banks as part of a broad privatisation drive, Bank
Melli is not expected to be affected.

In 2005-2006 the bank reported it had assets of more than 350 trillion rials
(32 billion dollars). More up-to-date figures are not available.

Recent press reports have said that Iran has moved its asset from the
European banks to other institutions, fearing that further sanctions would
affect its access to investments.

But this has been denied by the bank’s London branch which said: “It should
be noted that BMI continues to maintain very significant assets and


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