Iran has got $3bn not $55bn in frozen assets

John Kerry during his May visit to London in which he met non-US banks

Only $3bn of $55bn of Iran’s frozen assets have been returned so far and European and Asian banks continue to be reluctant to deal with Iranian counterparts, Bloomberg reported this morning.

US Secretary of State John Kerry told European bankers in London on 13 May that banks won’t be penalised for conducting legitimate business with Iran but many non-US banks continue to refuse to get involved in transactions involving Iranian individuals and corporations.

Non-US banks remain have paid a total of $15bn in fines and signing settlements for violating earlier US sanctions against Iran and other sanctioned countries.

Doing business with some Iranian entities, including about 200 individuals and companies associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, is still banned by primary US sanctions that punish Iran for its support for terrorism, launching and testing ballistic missiles and human-rights abuses. The US also maintains a prohibition on Iran using the US financial system and doing business in US dollars.

The US’ House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Banking Committee are due to discuss the Iran deal, signed last July, in separate hearings today.

Republican senators Marco Rubio and Mark Kirk warned Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in a letter sent on 19 May that they will hold up Treasury Department nominees unless they are reassured that Iran will not be allowed to use dollars or access dollar payment systems outside the US financial system.

The Financial Action Task Force, a 34-government agency sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, has cited Iran for flouting efforts to stop money laundering and terrorism finance.