AIC's President Interviewed about New OFAC Guidelines

Originally Published by Trend News Agency

US Treasury's recent decision easing deals with Iran will not reduce the fear that large banks have of dealing with Iran, believes Hooshang Amirahmadi, president of American Iranian Council.

"Major global banks can't absolutely make certain that they will be able to isolate completely US dollars coming out of commercial transactions with Iran and the banks cannot guarantee that those dollars will not enter the US banking system and so the banks will not want to risk losing their banking licenses if their monitoring systems fail them - so they will avoid the transactions," Hooshang Amirahmadi told Trend.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) which is a part of US Department of the Treasury on Oct. 7 released new guidelines for dealings with Iran, aimed at loosening restrictions on the country’s ability to trade in US dollars.

The easing will help smaller transactions and more localized trade deals as well as money transfers, Hooshang Amirahmadi mentioned.

Those involved in such transactions, however, risk mistaking the identity of Iranian entities under sanctions and free from it, he added.

In its new guidelines the Treasury said, "It is not necessarily sanctionable for a non-US person to engage in transactions with an entity that is not on the [sanctions list] but that is minority owned, or that is controlled in whole or in part, by an Iranian or Iran-related person on the [list]."

"The web of ownership and control is too complicated in many such situations for a firm to easily distinguish the legitimate partner from the illegitimate one," Amirahmadi noted.

The new guidelines allow deals with firms that are not under sanctions, but the rules still restrict entry of transactions into US financial system.

He further touched upon the impact of the new guidelines on Iran's capital market and on Tehran's stock exchange, saying it remain minimal even if the new relaxation will ease psychological barrier to some extend.

"Finally, The US Treasury's OFAC has subsequently issued a clarifying statement saying that the new measure is not designed to remove any sanction or allow transactions outside the JCPOA. This means dashing the hope that it originally raised," he concluded.

Although the nuclear related sanctions on Iran were lifted following the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on January 16, Iran still has difficulty establishing banking ties with leading European banks as they are worried about running afoul of US regulations.