BERLIN (Reuters) - German authorities are considering a request by Iran to withdraw 300 million euros (265.11 million pounds) from bank accounts held in Germany and transfer the cash to Iran, Bild newspaper reported Monday, citing unnamed government officials.
Tehran is seeking withdraw the funds from the Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank AG (eihbank) because it is worried that it could run out of cash when fresh U.S. sanctions against its financial sector take effect, Bild said.
Washington has announced new sanctions on Iran and ordered all countries to stop buying Iranian oil by November and foreign firms to stop doing business there or face U.S. blacklists.
One of the world’s biggest shipping lines, France’s CMA CGM, announced on Saturday it was pulling out of Iran for fear of becoming entangled in U.S. sanctions after U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear agreement in May.
Iran told the German Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) it needed the cash from the accounts “to pass on to Iranian citizens who require cash while travelling abroad, given their inability to access recognised credit cards,” Bild said.
BaFin was now reviewing the request, which had been briefed to senior officials in the chancellery, foreign ministry and finance ministry, the newspaper reported.
The finance ministry had no immediate comment. The Bundesbank, BaFin and the foreign ministry declined to comment. A spokeswoman for eihbank declined to comment, citing bank secrecy laws.
U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies fear the money could be used to fund armed groups in the Middle East, but German government officials said they had no indications of such plans, Bild reported.
Foreign ministers from the five remaining signatory countries to the nuclear deal — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — offered a package of economic measures to Iran on Friday but Tehran said they did not go far enough.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Robin Pomeroy