European companies may be lining up at the gate to do business with Iran in the event of a sanctions rollback but don't expect the continent's banks to go rushing in anytime soon.
A U.S. official's threat last month of economic sanctions against four Chinese banks is likely to be toothless given economic and enforcement hurdles, say sanctions analysts.
Pending civil complaints and recently unsealed documents in a case against a Luxembourg-based financial institution show the difficulty in collecting a landmark monetary penalty assessed against Iran for sponsoring terror, say analysts.
Additional banking and trade restrictions that target the finance and supply of Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs were passed by the U.N. Security Council Wednesday.
The United Kingdom banned British financial institutions Monday from transacting business with an Iranian shipping company and one of Iran's five state-owned banks.
Government authorities Wednesday sued to seize tens of millions of dollars in assets from a New York management company they say acted as a front for a blacklisted Iranian bank.
The U.S. government Wednesday blacklisted a fifth Iranian bank for allegedly helping the country build nuclear weapons, the latest move in escalating efforts to hem in Iran and convince Europe to follow suit.
The U.S. Senate banking committee approved a bill that would ratchet up economic pressure on Iran and increase the budgets of two government agencies that enforce sanctions and counter-terrorist financing regulations.
Iran is considering purchasing at least one of three Venezuelan banks to circumvent international sanctions requiring many of the world's banks to freeze the funds of five Iranian financial institutions, according to anti-money laundering consultants and Iranian news reports cited by the BBC.
As more mainstream banking channels are closed off to Iran, its businesses have turned to smaller, more obscure financial providers beyond the reach of U.S. jurisdiction and influence. That has resulted in higher compliance costs for financial institutions with a presence in the United States.
The sanctions would call for increased international scrutiny of transactions with Iran's largest banks, including their international subsidiaries, and the freezing of assets of individuals tied to the country's purported nuclear weapons program.
Economic sanctions targeting Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons might not be achieving U.S. objectives and should be reconsidered, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in an audit report.
The sanctions are part of a "comprehensive" drive by the U.S. to increase pressure on Iran, said Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. That effort has been frustrated by the hesitation of the United Nations and international community in following the U.S.
The designation would officially block all or part of Iran's 125,000-strong Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country's elite military unit, from dealing with U.S. financial institutions.
Two of the most stringent of several federal bills meant to increase pressure on Iran would forbid banks from processing transactions indirectly tied to Iranian entities. The bills, H.R.1400 and S.970, jointly called the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007, would prohibit u-turn transactions.
Over the past nine months U.S. officials have met with more than 40 banks to push for stronger international sanctions against Iran.
The measure, which names Bank Sepah a financial supporter of illicit weapons proliferation, has the added force of following a U.N. resolution against Iran. That elevates the pressure U.S. allies to follow suit.
The sanctions put pressure on U.S. banks to conduct greater due diligence on correspondent accounts to determine if they are linked to the Middle Eastern nation. That will likely continue a trend of foreign institutions dropping business dealings with the country.