LONDON/ANKARA - Iran is lobbying to get HSBC to process humanitarian trade transactions that Europe's biggest bank has frozen because of concerns about potential breaches of international sanctions, sources familiar with the trades told Reuters.
Banks such as HSBC are responding to tougher scrutiny over financial dealings with some countries including Iran, even as the Islamic Republic has won relief from some sanctions since its interim deal with world powers last November under which it has scaled back some aspects of its disputed nuclear program.
French bank BNP Paribas is facing a fine of as much as $9 billion and other penalties over allegations of US sanctions breaches involving Iran and other states between 2002 and 2009.
Iran was never barred from buying food or other humanitarian goods under sanctions first imposed in 2006 over its nuclear activity. But measures by the European Union and the United States have made trade generally more difficult over the past two years, hindering payments and shipping.
"HSBC, like other banks, is increasingly worried about falling foul of any sanctions oversights. It is just not worth the risks, especially in this climate," a banking source, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, said.