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Chinese, Russian Banks Refuse Transactions With Iran

A man walks past a Bank of Kunlun branch in Beijing, China January 12, 2017. FILE PHOTO

A member of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce has said that China’s Kunlun Bank is refusing to deal with Iran, as warnings from the international watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regarding banking ties with the Islamic Republic have become tougher this year.

Ali Shariati told local news website ILNA August 5 that for Iran the toughest challenge is in importing basic goods from China and occasionally Russia. “China is reverting to excuses regarding [sanctions on] shipping and money transfers,” Shariati said.

New pressures on Iran’s trade relations come from the fact that FATF finally put Iran back on its black list earlier this year after Tehran failed to fully comply with its demands to put legislative safeguards against money laundering and financing of terrorism.

Shariati told ILNA that FATF’s new restrictions “have definitely created new problems even with neighboring and regional countries”.

The Paris-based FATF is a financial watchdog monitoring the legal performance of banks and governments in the world and if it detects problems with transparency or signs of money laundering it issues warnings that can put banks and countries in a difficult situation.

Iran’s presidential administration tried since 2017 to have new legislation passed to satisfy FATF’s concerns but hardliners allied with the country’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei prevented the full passage of four bills.

Shariari has reiterated that Iran currently has no banking relations with China and Russia, its two diplomatic allies. Recently, Tehran has been advertising a proposed 25-year economic deal with Beijing, but so far there has been no public response from the Asian economic powerhouse.