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Lawyers say OFAC not clearing Iran sanctions ambiguities

Source: Press TV

Criticisms are rising against the US Treasury Department for what lawyers say is its failure to clear up the ambiguity caused by a maze of overlapping sanctions and exemptions over Iran trade issues. At the center of criticisms is the Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, known as OFAC.

US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
Global lawyers are criticizing OFAC for failing to clear up concerns over Iran sanctions.

Reuters has said in a report that international attorneys who regularly deal with OFAC have said the recommendations they receive from OFAC on sanctions issues relating to Iran are often vague and noncommittal.

This flies in the face of last week remarks by US Secretary of State John Kerry that traders can contact OFAC to inquire about the potential impacts of the remaining US sanctions on their Iran business plans.

Any firm concerned whether a prospective business deal with Iran would be legal, Secretary of State John Kerry said before a meeting with British bankers in London last week, should call the US agency in charge of sanctions, the Treasury Department's OFAC.

"It really shouldn't be complicated," Kerry has been quoted by Reuters as having told reporters, according to a transcript of his comments. "It's clearly defined, and when people have a question, we are available to answer those questions."

Since some sanctions were lifted, Iran has agreed to deals worth a total of at least $37 billion in sectors such as construction, aviation and car manufacturing, with companies including planemaker Airbus, carmaker Peugeot and Italian steel firm Danieli.

Dozens of other companies have said they are in talks or have signed provisional agreements with Iranian partners.

But lawyers say those deals will be difficult or impossible to carry out if large European banks refuse to finance them or transfer money in and out of the country, for fear that doing so might violate the remaining sanctions or that the restrictions might snap back, Reuters added.

Global businesses are still concerned about doing business with Iran in what is seen as a result of a fear of Washington's hefty penalties on companies that are found in violation of US primary sanctions against Iran.

US officials have emphasized that they are trying to soothe the concerns of global businesses in doing deals with the Islamic Republic.

Officials in Tehran, however, have in response emphasized that Washington's assurances over doing business with Iran have little effect as investors are still too scared to venture into the Iranian market as a result of the remaining US sanctions.

... Payvand News - 05/19/16 ... --

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