ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)–Transactions with Iran-based banks and private companies have nearly come to a halt since a delegation from the United States met with Turkish banks and institutions in August to discuss U.N. sanctions passed in June, the Turkish daily Milliyet reported Saturday.
The delegation came from the U.S. to Turkey around two weeks ago to warn banks and private companies not to do business with Iranian companies, Milliyet reported.
The visit came in the wake of a fourth round of sanctions approved on June 9 by the U.N. Security Council against Iran for its nuclear programs. In late June, the U.S. and the EU imposed their own stricter sanctions and asked other countries to the same. Turkey declined to follow the tougher sanctions, saying it would abide by the U.N.’s rules.
“Due to American pressure, a great problem is being experienced in money transfers from Iran to the Turkish banking sector,” a top executive of a large bank told Milliyet, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “The Americans have threatened us with freezing our assets abroad. We may also face a risk of arrest on our trips abroad if we carry out any transfers with those Iranian banks.”
The U.S. delegation, whose members were not revealed, also warned that it might blacklist Turkish state and private banks that do business with Iranian banks. A list of names of people, companies and institutions that have relations with Iran has been given to Turkish banks by the delegation, the top executive told Milliyet.
“The U.S. had already warned Turkey about Libya and Iran,” he said. “But after the delegation’s trip in August, this pressure has significantly increased and now we are experiencing serious problems in banking transactions.
Alongside tougher rules on financial transactions with Iranian banks, the latest U.N. sanctions prohibit Iran from buying heavy weapons such as attack helicopters and missiles, and increase the number of Iranian individuals and companies targeted with asset freezes and travel bans. There is also a new framework for cargo inspections to detect and stop Iran’s acquisition of illicit materials. Turkey and Brazil voted against the new round of U.N. sanctions in June and Lebanon abstained.
“Due to the embargo imposed by the U.S. and the European Union on Iran, there has been a serious contraction in transaction volume between [Turkish and Iranian] banks,” he said.
In addition to private banks, state banks also have commercial relations with Iranian counterparts.
The delegation from the U.S. also met with state institutions and companies including the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the Turkish Treasury, the Financial Crimes Investigative Board, or MASAK, the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency, or BDDK, the Turkish Banks Association, or TBB, Turkey’s top refiner Tüpraş and the state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corporation, or TPAO.
The delegation warned the institutions and companies not to do business with companies and banks related to Iran, Milliyet said.