Report: Merkel intervenes to stop Iran bank trade

April 5, 2011 11:50

BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has intervened to stop billions of euros of Indian oil payments from reaching Iranian accounts via Germany, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Citing government sources, Handelsblatt business daily said Germany will no longer authorise its central bank, the Bundesbank, to clear the payments headed to Hamburg-based EIH - a bank under US but not EU sanctions.

Israel, whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Merkel this week, wants Germany to shut down the German bank, saying it supports the spread of weapons of mass destruction by handling payments to participants in Iran's contentious nuclear program.

EIH came under renewed scrutiny last week when it emerged Berlin had allowed India to pay for billions of euros of oil purchases from Iran via the bank, after India restricted its own direct payments to Iran to placate Washington.

The United States had pressed Germany over the matter, although Berlin officials had said their hands were tied because the bank had not broken any EU rules, which allow payments for Iranian oil and natural gas.

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