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Iran starts tapping newly-unfrozen funds in Qatar totaling $6 billion

Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Governor Mohammad-Reza Farzin (L) and Qatar Central Bank Governor Sheikh Bandar bin Mohammed bin Saoud Al Thani meet in the Qatari capital of Doha on September 27, 2023. (Photo via IRNA)

Iran and Qatar have agreed a mechanism that allows Tehran to tap funds recently unfrozen and deposited into bank accounts in the Arab country as part of a deal with the United States.

Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Governor Mohammad-Reza Farzin and Qatar’s top banker Sheikh Bandar bin Mohammed bin Saoud Al Thani reached an agreement in Doha on Wednesday to start banking operations to use the funds transferred to Iranian bank accounts in Qatar earlier this month, a CBI statement said.

The statement said the agreement was reached as part of a broader discussion between Farzin and Sheikh Bandar to boost banking cooperation between Iran and Qatar.

Farzin said on September 18 that some 5.573 billion euros of Iran's foreign assets had been successfully transferred to accounts held by six Iranian banks in Qatar’s Ahlibank and Dukhan Bank.

The transfer took place under a Qatari-mediated deal between Iran and the US whereby the US agreed to lift sanctions on Iranian funds that had remained blocked in two South Korean banks since 2018. The two sides also exchanged prisoners as part of their deal.

Qatar paid for banking fees related to the change and transfer of the funds from South Korea via Swiss National Bank to Qatari banks.

The CBI statement identified the six Iranian banks holding accounts in Qatar for the purpose of processing the unfrozen funds as Keshavarzi, Saman, Pasargad, Gardeshgari, Shahr and Karafarin.

Iranian authorities have indicated in previous statements that they will use the newly-unfrozen funds in Qatar for purchase of non-sanctioned goods, including for imports of animal feed for which Iran spends billions of dollars each year.

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