Business Implications of the New Iranian Sanctions Framework

  • 12th, February, 2016
 Business Implications of the New Iranian Sanctions Framework

A new Briefing Note from Fieldfisher gives an overview of the changes to EU and US sanctions against Iran after Implementation Day on 16 January, and it provides some practical guidance on how buisnesses should approach the new sanctions framework day-to-day.

The full report can be accessed here. It was written by Vivien Davies, a Partner, and Vanessa Wilkinson, a Solicitor, both of whom work in the firm's dispute resolution department.

Many of the EU trade restictions have been lifted and these include several previous prohibilitions related to shipping and the provision of financial, banking and insurance services. Authorisation and notification requirements for money transfers have been removed. However, restrictions on items related to weapons and nuclear technology (including dual use) remain in place and, although many entities have been removed from the sanctions list, many have not. Among those that remain sanctioned by the EU are Ansar Bank, Bank Saderat Iran, Bank Saderat plc, and Mehr Bank.

As regards US sanctions, the Fieldfisher report stresses the importance of distinguishing between primary sanctions - longstanding embargoes and restrictions that apply to US persons -, and secondary sections, which apply to non-US persons and entities.

Under primary sanctions, it still remains generally true that US persons cannot engage in transactions involving Iran or Iranian-origin products. The two main exceptions are the civil airline industry, where a licensing regime has been established for US persons, and Iranian carpets and foodstuffs, for which a general license will soon be issued.

Most secondary sanctions have been lifted although more than 200 individuals and entities remain on the Specially Designated Nationals  (SDN) list. Non US persons remain subject to US action if they transact with SDNs. Non US persons are also subject to compliance issues if they engage in transactions that cause US persons to violate Iranian sanctions.

Newly-issued General License H permits US owned or controlled entities to engage in some activities with Iran, although transactions with SDNs and the Government of Iran remain outside the range of permitted activities.

The transfer of funds to or from the US financial system in regard to Iran-related transactions remains prohibited.

The Fieldfisher report ends with several questions that EU businesses should consider before engaging in new activities with Iran. These include:

  • Am I dealing with a person or entity designated either by the EU or the US Office of Foreign Assets Control?
  • Have I checked the beneficial ownership of the Iranian entity I am planning to deal with?
  • How, and to/from whom, can payments be made and received?
  • Will my bank facilitate this transaction?

The report stresses that Iranian sanctions remain complex, that many restrictions are still in place, and that businesses should review the new sanctions regime very carefully before embarking on new ventures.