Friday, January 20, 2006

Sleep easy, Iran is awake

9 hours ago-
Iran News - Iran denies shifting assets for fear of sanctions:
LONDON, January 20 (IranMania) - Iran denied reports that it was moving billions of dollars in hard currency from European banks to Asia and said Europe had no right to freeze its assets, said AFP.

Economy Minister Davoud Danesh-Jafari dismissed a report in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat that Iran had ordered government departments to withdraw currency from European banks, fearing possible sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme.

Danesh-Jafari described the news report as "politicised" and "media-driven."

"International law does not allow Europeans to do such a thing (freeze assets)," Danesh-Jafari said.

"Should they do it, it would be contrary to their interests because oil-producing countries... and other countries would become anxious and would transfer their financial reserves to more secure locations," he added.

The London-based Arabic newspaper had quoted an unnamed Iranian central bank source as saying Iran had decided not to allow the Europeans the chance to freeze its bank accounts in case of a political or military confrontation over its nuclear ambitions.

"A number of Iranian regime-linked figures have already withdrawn their private capital from European banks and deposited it in private banks in Hong Kong, as well as Dubai, Beirut, Singapore and Malaysia, over fears of account freezing," the source said.

"The size of these deposits amounts to eight billion dollars -- a quarter of Iran's hard-currency deposits," the source said, adding that the step did not involve Swiss banks.
4 hours ago:
Iran, at risk of U.N. sanctions, says moving assets - Reuters.com
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran is moving its foreign assets to an undisclosed destination, apparently to shield them from any U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program, the central bank governor was quoted as saying on Friday.
Iran, threatened with referral to the Security Council for possible punitive measures, has bitter memories of its U.S. assets being frozen shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

"We transfer foreign reserves to wherever we see as expedient. On this issue, we have started transferring. We are doing that," Ebrahim Sheibani told the ISNA students' news agency when asked about the need to shift Iran's holdings.

There was no immediate confirmation of the Iranian action, but Sheibani's remarks indicated how seriously the Islamic republic is taking the threat of U.N. sanctions.
However, Iran's Central Bank chief Ebrahim Sheibani denied "the freezing of Iran's hard-currency accounts in European banks," according to the official IRNA news agency.

Asked Wednesday about the possible freezing of Iranian assets, he said: "We will do all that is necessary." He also joked: "Sleep easy. We are awake."

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