Iran’s Bank Mellat to reopen Seoul branch

By Andrei Skvarsky.

Bank Mellat, Iran’s largest private lender, plans to reopen its branch in Seoul next month after effectively suspending its business in South Korea in 2010 because of Western sanctions against the Islamic Republic, a London-based business communications agency said.

Within a week, Bank Mellat is due to be put back into SWIFT, a global network for transactions between banks across the world, Sterling Media said in a statement.

Bank Mellat’s return into the global business arena follows January’s lifting of US and European Union sanctions against Iran under the breakthrough agreement of July 2015.

The bank, moreover, had separate sanctions imposed by it by the EU and the British Treasury but has been cleared of them after legal battles waged on its behalf by London law firm Zaiwalla & Co.

Sarosh Zaiwalla, head of the firm, is going to claim $4bn off Britain’s Treasury for Bank Mellat as damage compensation.

The bank’s Seoul branch, opened in 2001, had financed Iranian-South Korean trade and handled foreign exchange transactions and the transfer of wages for Iranians working in South Korea.

It had its business slashed in 2010 to some transactions based on South Korean won.

Sterling Media cited a Bank Mellat spokesperson as saying last week that the lender was seeking the go-ahead from the United States to setting up a euro-based substitute settlement system as US anti-Iranian sanctions that remain in place prevent the bank from accepting U.S. dollars.

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