Iran General NewsTreasury urges Middle East firms to avoid Iran

Treasury urges Middle East firms to avoid Iran

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Reuters: The U.S. Treasury’s top anti-terrorism official on Wednesday urged Middle East-based companies not to do business with Iran, saying they could be helping to fund terrorist activities or weapons proliferation.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury’s top anti-terrorism official on Wednesday urged Middle East-based companies not to do business with Iran, saying they could be helping to fund terrorist activities or weapons proliferation.

Speaking in Dubai to a trade and finance conference, Stuart Levey, the Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said many companies are deciding that doing business with Iran carries too many regulatory risks and could damage their reputations.

The United States has put pressure on Tehran by banning U.S. transactions with a number of state banks and state-sponsored Iranian enterprises, and has persuaded a number of international banks to do less business in Iran.

“Corporations are in the process of reconsidering their investments in Iran because they do not want revenue generated from their projects diverted toward threatening and destabilizing policies such as illicit weapons proliferation and terrorism,” Levey said in prepared remarks released in Washington.

Swiss banking giant UBS last year cut ties to Iran, and Levey said HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and Commerzbank were among a number of other institutions to limit their exposure to Iranian business.

Levey urged Middle East-based business leaders to do the same.

“I recognize that it may be tempting to step into the void that is being created by other companies pulling back their business in Iran, but they are pulling back for a reason,” he said. “The world’s top financial institutions and corporations are re-evaluating their business with Iran because they are worried about the risk and their reputations.”

The United States accuses Iran of backing Shi’ite militias in Iraq, and of sponsoring terrorism, including the Palestinian group Hamas and Lebanon’s Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah group. Washington also suspects Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons. Tehran denies both charges.

Levey also reminded executives about a U.N. Security Council resolution from December, which imposed trade sanctions on sensitive nuclear materials and technology and froze assets of key Iranians.

“I am sure you would agree that your companies want to take every precaution to avoid being involved with terrorism or other dangerous activities,” he said.

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