Tehran calls on ‘friendly’ Malaysia to resolve banking restrictions on Iranians

November 1, 2019 - 19:33

TEHRAN – Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi has deplored banking restrictions on Iranians residing in Malaysia under the U.S. sanctions, which Iran refers to as “economic terrorism”, calling on the “friendly state of Malaysia” to resolve the issue.

“Sadly, a number of Malaysian banks have placed a series of restrictions on opening accounts and offering banking services for Iranians, under the influence of the United States’ economic terrorism,” Mousavi told reporters on Thursday, the Foreign Ministry website reported.

“In this regard, our country’s embassy in Malaysia has put the issue on the agenda in constant and intensive arrangements with Malaysia’s government bodies and banking officials, and multiple negotiations have been held with the relevant authorities, and figuring out a solution and resolving the problem is still on the agenda,” the spokesman added.

Citing a number of affected individuals, Reuters reported on Wednesday that Banks in Malaysia were closing the accounts of Iranian individuals and companies because of U.S. sanctions.

According to the news agency, some Iranians and one embassy official said that there were “mass closure” of Iranians’ bank accounts in the Southeast Asian country in recent months.

The banks were being “more Catholic than the Pope”, said university lecturer Behrang Samadi, who is among an estimated 10,000 Iranians living in Malaysia and learned in August that his bank, CIMB, would close his 14-year-old account.

Mousavi also said the banking restrictions have created problems for the presence and activities of Iranians in Malaysia, particularly the participation of Iranian elites and university students in Malaysia’s scientific and academic sphere as well as those involved in the trade and business sector.

“We hope that the friendly state of Malaysia would work out solutions to settle the problem, considering the Malaysian government’s goodwill and clear and recognized stances on the unilateral (U.S.) sanctions, and that the problems that have arisen in Iranians’ bank accesses would be resolved with consultation and on the basis of the legal frameworks available for the issue,” he added.

Malaysia’s prime minister told reporters on Wednesday his nation was being forced to “make it difficult” for Iranians to live normal lives in the country.

“Our ties are very good with Tehran, but we face some very strong pressures from certain quarters, which you may guess,” Mahathir Mohamad said, without naming where the pressure was coming from.

“We are forced to do this because if we don’t, they will close our banks abroad. It’s a kind of bullying by very powerful people.”