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. Iran to keep money in European banks: bank official
TEHRAN, June 17 (AFP) Jun 17, 2008
Iran is not planning to move assets from European banks, a banking official said on Tuesday, rejecting reports it is making major withdrawals to dodge impending EU sanctions.

"No money from Iranian banks has been transferred out of European banks to Iran or other countries. And it will not be (moved)," the managing director of Bank Mellat, Ali Divandari, was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency.

"There is no reason for the transfer of this money," said Divandari, whose bank is one of Iran's major state banks.

The United States and European Union are seeking to wrench up the pressure against Tehran in the standoff over its contested nuclear programme by imposing a range of financial measures against the Islamic republic.

Media reports have said Iran has been shifting tens of billions of dollars from the European banks to other institutions, fearing that further sanctions would affect its access to investments.

Divandari however said that the transfer of such assets has not even been discussed.

The European Union is expected soon to approve new financial sanctions against Iran, targeting in particular Bank Melli, another of Iran's biggest state owned banks.

The United States in October imposed sanctions against three of Iran's largest banks -- including Melli and Mellat -- accusing them of financing weapons proliferation.

Those sanctions forbid any financial transactions between a US citizen or private organisation. All assets under US jurisdiction of those targeted were immediately frozen.

The UN Security Council has slapped three sets of sanctions on Iran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process which can be diverted to develop a nuclear bomb. Iran has denied it seeks nuclear weapons.

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