19 July 2010
German authorities are investigating the activities of a Hamburg-based Iranian-owned bank after it was blacklisted by the US government in connection with sanctions against Iran. A spokesman for Germany’s Finance Ministry said financial officials had no knowledge of wrongdoing by the European-Iranian Trade Bank (EIH), following a report by the ‘Wall Street Journal' that the bank had conducted more than a billion dollars in international business for Iranian companies. The Ministry said it was currently not aware of any infringements but the country's financial regulator and the Bundesbank would be looking into the issues raised in the newspaper report, the spokesman said.
On its website, the bank says it was founded in 1971 and describes itself as "a specialized bank for services and business possibilities with Iran." The 'Wall Street Journal' writes that EIH's business partners include units of Iran's Defense Industries Organization, the Aerospace Industries Organization and the Revolutionary Guard. In 2009, EIH appears to have been involved in a broad sanctions-evasion scheme, conducting transactions on behalf of Iran's Bank Sepah that has been sanctioned for facilitating Iran's weapons trade and proliferation activities, the paper said.
Last month, the US Treasury Department included EIH in a list of individuals and institutions it says are helping Iran develop its nuclear and missile programs and evade international sanctions. EU foreign ministers are to meet later this month to finalize their own lists. Currently, the EU has not named the bank on its blacklists.
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