Armenian Banks to Close Iranian Dual Nationals’ Accounts

Armenian acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan speaks during a parliament session in Yerevan, Armenia November 1, 2018. REUTERS

Kayhan London – Banks in Armenia plan to close all foreign currency accounts of Iranian customers who are legal residents in the country or hold Armenian citizenship. They have asked the account holders to either withdraw their entire deposit or transfer it to another bank in the coming weeks.

Iranian-Armenians who are also Green-Card holders, ie permanent residents of the U.S., have not been granted an exemption. The measure is in response to the latest set of U.S. sanctions against Iran that went into effect on November 5. They target Iran’s banking, oil and shipping sectors.

Armenian banks refused to open bank accounts for Iranian citizens after the U.S. Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA.) They have, however, allowed Iranian-Armenians and permanent residents to maintain their foreign currency accounts.

The privately owned Iranian Bank Mellat, which had to discontinue all of its activities in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, was able to resume its operations after the signing of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal. However, it may have to close down its business in Armenia again.

In a meeting with the governor-general of Fars Province Mohammad Ali Afshani last week, the Armenian ambassador to Iran Artashes Toumanian said: “We welcome Iranian businesses. We’ll do our utmost to help Iran bypass U.S. sanctions and get access to the Eurasian market.”

A delegation of senior U.S. officials visited Yerevan earlier this month and held talks with the Armenian government and the country’s private sector on the economic sanctions on Iran. A statement by the U.S. embassy in Yerevan said: “The delegation emphasized U.S. efforts to change the Iranian regime’s malign behavior through maximum economic and diplomatic pressure, while also outlining areas for cooperation with partners like Armenia. The delegation also met with the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Armenia as well as with private banks, members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Armenia, and Armenian academics and think tank experts.”


Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi