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Iranian banking: American squeeze on Iran presses on London

BBA writes to UK Treasury over ‘informal actions of US officials’.

The head of the most important UK banks lobby group has written a letter to Ed Balls, economic secretary to the Treasury, outlining his concern that the recent sanctions taken by the US authorities against Iranian banking interests could damage London’s credibility as an international financial centre.

Ian Mullen, chief executive of the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), a leading trade body with about 220 members, says that the sanctions imposed by the US Treasury on Iran’s Bank Saderat, including its UK subsidiary, following accusations that it is financing terrorist groups, and its complementary warnings to international banks to be “very careful” in their dealings with all Iranian institutions, is damaging to the City. It “seems to strike at the heart of what London offers as a place to do business,” the letter says.

Mullen describes the City of London as “a transparent, well-regulated centre in which supporting services are readily available to all who undertake lawful international business, and where disputes are settled by legal process”.

In the strongly worded letter, written on December 14 and obtained by Euromoney, Mullen says: “It would be unfortunate if banks were to be denied the ability to conduct their lawful business in London by informal actions of US Treasury officials.”

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