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Italy lifts ban on oldest Iranian bank

12/20/08 Source: Press TV

Italy has reportedly overturned a decision to ban the oldest Iranian bank, allowing the financial institution to resume activities in Rome.

Bank Sepah Managing Director Hassan Ali Qanbari said Saturday that the bank had successfully managed to reactivate its Rome branch to become the only active subsidiary of Iranian banks in the country amid stepped-up Western sanctions.

"In the follow-up to the temporary setback in Bank Sepah's commercial activities, Iranian authorities have taken necessary steps and have discussed the bank's constitutional rights with Italian judiciary officials," the bank manager was quoted by IRNA as saying on Saturday.

Qanbari said that all problems have been resolved and the bank is actively ready to provide a wide range of financial services to its clients.

According to the bank official, the London branch of Bank Sepah has also recommenced operations and has changed its capital to euro in a bid to improve its level of service.

To pressure Tehran into halting uranium enrichment, Washington has imposed unilateral sanctions on commercial Iranian banks -- Melli, Saderat, Sepah and Mellat -- and has demanded that world financial institutions follow suit.

Washington has also lobbied to freeze the assets of all Bank Sepah branches and subsidiaries in Italy, the UK, France and Germany.

Senior EU lawmakers have criticized the punitive measures and have warned against White House propensity in imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic over its uranium enrichment.

"The EU is playing a dangerous game by imposing fresh sanctions against Iran," chairperson of the EU-Iran delegation in the European Parliament, Angelika Beer, said in June.

"By deciding to freeze the assets of Iran's largest bank, Bank Melli, it (the EU) torpedoes a proposal for negotiations - made by its own representative Javier Solana - before any response can be given from the Iranian authorities," she added.

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