Bloomberg News

Russian State-Run Bank VTB Closes Accounts of Iranian Diplomats

March 02, 2012

Russian state-run bank VTB-24 said it’s closing the accounts of Iranian diplomats in Moscow in a move denounced by the Gulf state’s ambassador as a surrender to U.S. sanctions.

VTB-24, the retail arm of VTB Group (VTBR), Russia’s second- largest lender, decided to terminate the approximately 30 accounts because half of them were idle, spokesman Artyom Bochkaryov said by phone. “This is a purely economic decision, there’s no politics here,” he said.

Iranian Ambassador Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi said on his blog today that the bank gave a few hours’ notice to the embassy requiring all its diplomats to withdraw their money. He accused VTB-24 of becoming “an instrument in the hands of others” and warned that the U.S. wouldn’t show any gratitude. “The Iranian Shah and (ousted Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak for 30 years served American interests and in the end they threw them out like unwanted rubbish,” he said.

The U.S. and the European Union have tightened financial and energy sanctions against Iran in a bid to force the Islamic Republic to curb its disputed nuclear program, which Western countries say is a cover for an atomic weapons drive. Iran says it is developing atomic technology for peaceful purposes. VTB is expanding in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net


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