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. US sanctions not hampering business: Iran bank chief
LONDON, Aug 22 (AFP) Aug 22, 2008
American sanctions on Iran's financial sector have not hampered business for Bank Mellat, one of Iran's major state-owned banks, its managing director said in an interview published Friday.

Speaking to the Financial Times in Tehran, Ali Divandari said that while US sanctions "initially had a negative impact on the bank's reputation and created troubles ... in practice there was no halt to our operations."

"We are now working with important international commercial and correspondent banks on a daily basis ... including European, Asian and African ones," he added, declining to name any of the banks or their home countries.

Divandari noted that the number of banks doing business with Bank Mellat had increased since the US sanctions because major international financial institutions that were doing business with it were replaced by a larger number of smaller banks.

"It will be troublesome if Europe imposes unilateral sanctions on Iran's banks, but we will be able to again replace the outgoing banks," he added.

The United States in October imposed sanctions against three of Iran's largest banks -- including 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 the explosive core a nuclear bomb. Iran has denied it seeks nuclear weapons.

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