By Stelios Orphanides
The Central Bank of Cyprus said that while it has no restrictions in place concerning business ties to Iran, including the opening of bank accounts at Cypriot banks by Iranians and transactions, banks should proceed after evaluating related risks and always stick to the law.
“It is up to every bank to decide, after evaluating the risks involved in each case it wants to assume and is prepared to handle in the context of the legal and supervisory framework,” the central bank said in a statement on its website on Thursday. “What the Central Bank of Cyprus demands from banking institutions is the appropriate and prudent risk evaluation as the protection of the banking system comes first”.
The statement was in reaction to press reports which followed a meeting House Speaker Demetris Syllouris had in Iran with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. According to a statement on the website of the Press and Information Office on Sunday, the two men also discussed the prospects of bilateral business relations including banking.
Iran’s Financial Tribune reported on Monday that the country’s First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri encouraged Cyprus to expand its banking ties with the West Asian country.
Iran reached an agreement regarding its atomic programme with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and the European Union early last year which opened the way for the lifting of sanctions against the country. In May, Central Bank of Cyprus governor Chrystalla Georghadji said that US authorities threatened to shut out Cypriot banks from transactions in dollar unless Cypriot authorities took action against the Cyprus branch of FBME Bank.
Banks and other corporations in the Republic of Cyprus are obliged to implement international sanctions adopted by the Security Council as well as restrictive measures adopted by the Council of the European Union, as part of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, the supervisory authority said.
“In addition, they have an obligation to adhere to the provisions of the anti-money laundering law of 2007 and its amendments as well as the related directive of the Central Bank of Cyprus,” the bank supervisor said.