New US guidelines ease restrictions on Iran dealings for foreign firms


(JTA) — Updated guidelines published by the U.S. Treasury Department ease restrictions on foreign companies attempting to do business with Iran in what is being called a “loosening of sanctions.”

The guidelines published Friday allow business with Iran as long as the U.S. financial system and Americans are not involved. For example, foreign financial institutions can process transactions in dollars with Iran, and U.S. financial institutions are permitted to conduct transactions with the foreign entities involved, granted that none of the money from dealings with Iran entered the U.S. financial system.

Also, the guidelines said it was “not necessarily sanctionable” for foreigners to conduct business with an entity that while not on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list — a list of individuals and companies, including terrorists, with which U.S. citizens and permanent residents are not allowed to do business —  is nonetheless “minority owned, or that is controlled in whole or in part, by an Iranian or Iran-related person on the SDN List.”

The update clarifies the current state of the sanctions against Iran and does not represent further sanctions relief, a Treasury Department spokesman told Bloomberg.

Eric Lorber, an expert on anti-money laundering policy and terror finance issues who formerly worked for the Treasury Department, called the changes a “loosening of sanctions.”

“This is a green light to foreign companies — they can do business in U.S. dollars with Iran and Iranian parties without worrying about violating sanctions, as long as those dollars don’t touch the U.S. financial system at all,” Lobber, a senior associate at the Financial Integrity Network, told Bloomberg.

In July 2015, six countries led by the United States reached an agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions on the country. The White House has said the deal would prevent Iran, whose leaders have called for the destruction of Israel, from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

The U.S. still maintains sanctions on Iran, as well as on Iranian companes and people on the SDN list.

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