Banking relation with Iran is moving, says British law expert

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Sue Millar of Stephenson Harwood Law firm says British banks are generally very interested to re-establish connections with Iran and claim that there is a real movement happening in this area.

In an interview with IRNA in London, and commenting on her opinion about the current banking situation, Millar said, ‘We act for the British Iranian banks and have been heavily involved in discussions with industries, the regulatory authority and the government about how to break the banking impasse.

The good news is that there is a real movement and it is well intended, but it is frustratingly slow.’

On the reason why things are moving slow, she said, ‘It is a combination of the architecture of the banking system in the UK which is different to the architecture to the banking system in Europe.

Each bank has a direct clearing relationship in Europe, but here in the UK you clear through another bank and those are the banks tend to be large banks who have found themselves on the wrong side of very large penalties from the US.

So they are naturally far more cautious than as warranted.’

Q. To a question if there is a prospect of normalization of banking system between Britain and Iran, the British expert said,’ I think there is and it will happen. I am a long term optimist. I have said this and would say just wait another six months.

The banking industry in the UK are generally always very interested in Iran, but they want to be second or third in. They like to see what the other banks do first.

I think there are relatively simple steps that could be put in place to resolve this and I think that there is a political will to do so, but previously the UK government was looking for the commercial sector to fill the gap and now I think there is a grown realization that there might need to be some intervention.’

On the the impact of Brexit on trade with Iran, she said, ‘It is a difficult question, but if the reality is that we are not going to have any deals with the EU and we are just going to be a trading partner like anyone else, it certainly is the case that the UK needs to find additional market.

Brexit should act as an accelerator real trade with Iran.’

Asked if Donald Trump retreats from JCPOA, would Britain preserve its position, the British sepert said, ‘I think so far as the JCPOA is concerned, the next president is irrelevant to JCPOA. By that, I mean that in order to tear up the JCPOA it has to be on the basis that Iran has breached the fundamentals of its obligation.

What the US or any other signatories cannot do is just to say I am walking away from their international obligation. I do not think that is going to happen. I think the JCPOA will hold and I do think that the next president is irrelevant to the question of the future of the JCPOA.

*Sue Millar is a finance litigation specialist. She focuses on investment banking disputes, involving highly complex products and structures. Her expertise extends to commercial and private banking and trade finance disputes

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