Austria / Press
Sunday, April 14, 2024

Monday, June 12th 2017

Secret visit to Iran: Austrian Finance Minister Schelling and Austrian National Bank Governor Nowotny cosying up to Iran’s Islamist regime

Enormous Iran business risks remain for banks due to terror financing, money laundering and sanctions

Without prior notice to the public, Austrian Finance Minister Hans Jörg Schelling and the Governor of Austria’s National Bank Ewald Nowotny went to visit the Iranian regime last weekend with a delegation of banking and business representatives to advance business ties with Tehran’s Islamists despite the financing of terrorism, money laundering and sanctions. Iranian regime media have reported about the meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, Oil Minister Zanganeh, Economy Minister Tayebnia and Industry Minister Nematzadeh. According to these reports, the two sides discussed a taxation agreement and the expansion of banking operations in Iran of Austria’s Oberbank, Raiffeisen and Bank Austria - the latter has been investigated by U.S. authorities for suspected violations of Iran sanctions, according to Austrian media reports last year. Further, Nowotny was quoted as saying in Tehran that an account for Iran’s Central Bank had been established at Austria’s National Bank. Claims were also made by regime media about an alleged investment of Voestalpine in southern Iran.

U.S. and EU sanctions are still in place even after the nuclear deal, affecting Austrian banks and companies. A "snap-back" of the old sanctions has to be taken into account, as has the imposition of new sanctions. In April 2017, the U.S. State Department announced that Iran continues to sponsor terrorism, and that the nuclear deal would undergo a review. Given the control of the Iranian economy by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), it has to assumed that  foreign trade revenues are used for the expansion of the nuclear program and the financing of Iran’s terrorist activities (e.g. the financing of Hizbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad). Therefore a debate is currently taking place in the U.S. Congress on the the "IRGC Terrorist Sanctions Act of 2017" which is supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

"With intransparent visits and by doing business with the Iranian regime Austrian politicians, banks and companies support an Islamist dictatorship that is responsible for the highest number of executions per capita worldwide and an anti-Semitic regime that threatens to destroy Israel and engages in Holocaust denial. The Iranian regime destabilizes the entire Middle East by supporting terrorism in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories and is thereby co-responsible for the expulsion of millions of refugees," said Stefan Schaden, a spokesperson for STOP THE BOMB.



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