A number of UAE-based banks told Gulf News yesterday they have stepped up caution on dealing with Iranian owned businesses and financing imports from and exports to that country in the context of new international sanctions.
"We strictly follow the Central Bank instructions on financing Iranian entities and businesses. But some institutions implement additional restrictions as a matter of caution," said the treasury head of a leading local bank.
Some banks said they continue to fin-ance businesses owned by Iranians in the UAE. "These businesses are legally recognised entities and have their assets in the UAE. If they have their accounts properly audited locally and if their balance sheets are in order we finance them," said a manager with a local bank.
But some bankers said in recent weeks, following a new series of sanctions on Iran imposed by the US, UK, Canada and some European Union countries they are exercising additional caution on opening of new accounts for individuals and institutions.
"We continue to open accounts for Iranian businesses. All such new accounts are put through special scrutiny. We have been advised by our head office to keep a close eye on all financing deals linked to Iranian owned businesses," said an official with a local bank.
Last month, the US named Iran as a prime area of money laundering concern and blacklisted 11 entities suspected of aiding its nuclear programme. It expanded sanctions to target firms that aid Iran's oil and petrochemical industries.
Britain banned all its financial institutions from doing business with Iran, including the Iranian central bank and Canada said it would ban the export of all goods used in Iran's petrochemical, oil and gas industries and block virtually all transactions with Iran.
In the past such international sanctions did not seriously impact Iran's trade through the UAE. But this time many banks including those from countries that have not imposed trade sanctions on Iran are shy of doing business with Iranian entities.
"There are lucrative opportunities to finance some of the legally and financially sound Iranian businesses in the UAE through our Dubai operation. But we do not want to jeopardise our businesses in the US and Europe because of this," said the treasury head of a foreign bank.