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Iran bank sues EU for sanctions damages

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The exterior of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg.

Iran’s Tejarat Bank says it has filed a lawsuit with the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to seek damages for the losses it incurred as a result of several years of sanctions by the European Union. 

Mohammad-Ebrahim Moqaddam, the governor of Tejarat Bank, told the domestic media that the lawsuit was based on damage assessments that had been carried out by a group of international accounting and auditing experts.

Moqaddam said the bulk of damages that his bank had suffered from 2011 to 2016 were those that had resulted from blocking its overseas assets.

Moqaddam further emphasized that a plunge in revenues relating to foreign exchange activities also comprised a major section of damages during the years of sanctions. 

EU sanctions had been imposed on Tejarat Bank as well as over two dozen Iranians over allegations that they were involved in the development of Iran’s nuclear energy program and had circumvented the US-led sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

In January 2015, the General Court of the European Union scrapped the sanctions against Tejarat Bank on grounds that the EU had not presented any justification for freezing the assets and economic resources of the bank.

However, the EU later in March 2015 re-imposed the sanctions by using what it described as “new legal grounds”. 

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The sanctions against Bank Tejarat were removed in January 2016 after a key nuclear deal that Iran had sealed with the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany  - the so-called P5+1 – came into effect.

The deal envisaged the removal of certain economic sanctions against Iran – including those against its banking sector – in return for steps by the Islamic Republic to restrict certain aspects of its nuclear energy activities.

Tejarat Bank was established in 1979 after the merger of several local private credit institutions as well as banks - some of which were jointly owned with Britain, Japan, and the Netherlands.  It has around 2,000 branches in Iran as well as two branches in France and Tajikistan. The bank's current capital stands at Rials 45.7 trillion ($1.2 billion).

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