Iranian denies claim by EU he broke sanctions

Mon, Dec 24, 2012, 00:00

An Iranian businessman named by the European Union for breaching sanctions against Iran denied any wrongdoing yesterday, saying his bank and other companies did not work for the Iranian government.

“This is a mistake,” Babak Zanjani said, speaking in his office in a financial district of Dubai a day after the sanctions came into force. Neither his Malaysia-based First Islamic Bank nor his 60-plus other companies had done anything wrong, he said.

In the latest sanctions, agreed by the EU in October and put into effect on Saturday, Mr Zanjani was subjected to “restrictive measures”, forbidding EU companies or individuals doing Iran-related business with him.

The sanctions, aimed at forcing Iran to curb its nuclear activities, include bans on financial transactions, sales to Iran of shipping equipment and steel, and imports of Iranian natural gas. The curbs are in addition to earlier bans, including on the OPEC producer’s oil.

The new sanctions describe Mr Zanjani as “a key facilitator for Iranian oil deals and transferring oil-related money” and accuses First Islamic Bank of being used to channel Iranian oil-related payments.

Mr Zanjani said the complex nature of his companies’ transactions, involving large sums, might have misled EU authorities. “I carry an Iranian passport and I send quite a lot of money to my companies all around the world,” he said.

Mr Zanjani said there were 64 or 65 companies in his group operating in a range of industries such as cosmetics, food, oil and aviation. The website of his Sorinet Group shows at least a dozen company names, mostly based in the UAE, with some in Turkey. – (Reuters)