German banks to open Iranian branches, official says

Gabriel was recently criticized in Germany for putting business interests above nuclear agreement qualms.

August 4, 2015 11:40
1 minute read.
Sigmar Gabriel Iran

Germany vice chancellor and economic affairs minister Sigmar Gabriel with Iran president Hassan Rouhani. (photo credit: ATTA KENARE / AFP)

An Iranian official said Tuesday that German banks are expected to open Iranian branches once sanctions are fully lifted.

In an interview with Iran's Press TV on Tuesday, Iran's Central Bank Governor Valiollah Seif said Germany's Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who is also the federal minister of economic affairs, agreed to this during his recent trip to the Islamic Republic, though did not name specific banks.

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Gabriel was quoted as saying that Germany is "interested in restoring banking relations with Iran as soon as possible after the removal of the sanctions,” he said.

Seif encouraged more international investment in Iran but said "their investment should not exceed 40 percent [of the bank’s total assets].”  

The vice chancellor's three-day business trip to Iran in July sparked a wave of intense criticism from members of his social democratic party and NGOs for putting business above all else.

In an interview with RadioEins, Kevin Kühnert, the head of the Berlin youth organization for the Social Democrats, Juso, questioned Gabriel’s visit to conclude business deals with Iran.

“Did Germany do enough in the negotiations to eliminate the possibility of an Iranian atomic program or were economic interests so large that they have priority?”

Kühnert added, “Under Rouhani more people were executed than under [former president Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad. I don’t want to see pictures in which people are hanged from German cranes. Under these premises, I do not want to restart trade with this land.”

In 2012, during a trip to Israel, Sigmar was also criticized for calling Israel an “Apartheid regime” while visiting Hebron. On his most recent trip, however, he called on Iran to improve its relationship with Israel to have closer economic ties with Germany and the West.

Benjamin Weinthal contributed to this report.

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