US pressures Germany to halt business in Iran

30th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

30 July 2007, Berlin (dpa) - The US Treasury has successfully put German financial institutions under severe pressure to cease all dealings with Iran, according to a report in the German news magazine Der Spiegel released on Saturday.

30 July 2007

Berlin (dpa) - The US Treasury has successfully put German financial institutions under severe pressure to cease all dealings with Iran, according to a report in the German news magazine Der Spiegel released on Saturday.

Der Spiegel said US Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey had recently paid a visit in person to German banks and other companies.

Levey, tasked with fighting international terrorism and organized crime by cutting off their financial support, had also been in Berlin in July to press the government to end trade with Iran, Der Spiegel said, adding that this visit had been less successful.

According to the report, the Tehran government has channelled some of its foreign currency earnings to German banks. The total held by German financial institutions topped 6.55 billion euros (8.9 billion dollars) in May.

Germany's largest bank, Deutsche Bank, had tacitly agreed to run down its dealings with Iran after being placed on a list of institutions dealing with rogue states compiled by the US financial watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

BASF and Siemens were also named on the list, which had been taken off the SEC website after protest, Der Spiegel also said.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment beyond saying that its Iranian business made up only 0.1 per cent of turnover and was being reduced further.

Another large German bank, Commerzbank, stopped financing trade deals with Iran in January, according to the report.

An unnamed German banker said German institutions were effectively being "blackmailed" by the US.

Der Spiegel said Levey had secured less success in pressuring the German government to end financial guarantees for exports through the Hermes scheme.

Thousands of jobs in Germany were linked to the 4 billion euros in exports that go to the Gulf region every year, it noted.

DPA

Subject: German news

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