French officials are looking to keep at least one Iranian bank connected to the Belgian-based SWIFT financial telecommunication system, AFP reported on October 22.
The European-based financial transactions system (full name, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) added Iranian lenders to its list of banks accepting payments through SWIFT after the end of the multilateral sanctions against Iran in January 2016 under the nuclear deal signed between the Islamic Republic and six major powers. The status of these places on the list was not made clear by the news agency report, but the US—having pulled out of the accord in early May and imposed heavy unilateral sanctions against Iran—is again attempting to disrupt Iran’s opportunities to conduct global trade and access international banking and trade financing.
During a recent visit to Tehran, French Senator Philippe Bonnecarrere said that retaining the connection of at least one Iranian bank to SWIFT would be “difficult, but it’s possible”.
One approach was "to have at least one Iranian bank remain connected to the international banking system through SWIFT to keep up commercial relations on goods or services that are not subject to [US] sanctions", he added.
The senator, who heads the France-Iran Friendship Group in the upper house of the French parliament, made the remarks while present with another six members of the group visiting Iran.
French National Assembly member Delphine O said that the visit was a sign of "all the determination and all the will of France to keep alive the nuclear agreement".
France, Germany, the UK, Russia and China, which along with the US and France signed the nuclear deal in late 2015, remain opposed to Washington’s resignation from the accord and the reintroduction of crippling sanctions against Tehran.
The EU is working on a special purpose vehicle (SPV) measure to help Iran to continue to trade with Europe. It is widely expected that the SPV will provide a means to create a barter system for exchanging Iranian oil for European goods. No money would change hands and the parties using the system would not be identified, thus reducing the likelihood of the US successfully targeting them with sanctions. The EU has said the SPV might be in operation prior to November 5, the date on which the US wants to see a worldwide embargo on Iran’s lifeline oil exports kick in.
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