Berlin zooms in on Euro-Iranian bank

The German government is tightening its monitoring of the Hamburg-based European-Iranian Trade Bank, which was at the centre of a controversy this week regarding Indian purchases of Iranian oil.

Berlin zooms in on Euro-Iranian bank
Photo: DPA

Business daily Handelsblatt reported on its website Friday that Germany’s Foreign Ministry had announced the tougher monitoring of the bank. It made the statement in response to questions put by the opposition Social Democratic Party.

The government had “placed additional control measures against the EIHB,” the written statement said. “The government is thoroughly pursuing all the accusations made against the bank,” it added.

The ministry explained that differing legal systems meant that unlike the United States, the European Union had not put the EIHB on a sanctions list over any possible involvement in financing the Iranian nuclear programme.

Under the existing EU sanctions, “very strict control mechanisms” already existed, including the monitoring of the activities of the EIHB. However the EIHB did not belong to “the companies that have been listed by the EU.”

On Tuesday, the paper reported that Chancellor Angela Merkel had blocked plans by India to channel oil payments to Iran through the German central bank, the Bundesbank.

That report stated that India, under US pressure to break direct commercial links with the Islamic republic, intended to place money for its Iranian oil imports in an account with the Bundesbank.

The Bundesbank would then transfer the money – around €9 billion annually – to the EIHB. An unnamed Berlin official later contradicted that report, according to business wire Bloomburg, saying the Indian government had voluntarily stopped the payments.

The Local/djw

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Germany summons Belarus envoy over forced Ryanair landing

Germany said on Monday it had summoned the Belarusian ambassador over the forced landing of an airliner and detention of a critical journalist.

Germany summons Belarus envoy over forced Ryanair landing
A woman stands with a poster reading 'Where is Roman (Protasevich)?!' in the arrival area as passengers disembark from a Ryanair passenger plane from Athens, Greece, that was intercepted and diverted to Minsk on the same day by Belarus authorities. Photo: Petras Malukas/AFP

“The explanations of the Belarusian government for the forced landing of a Ryanair plane in Minsk are absurd and not credible,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement.

“We need clarity on what really happened on board and on the ground,” he added, saying that ambassador Denis Sidorenko was expected at his ministry Monday evening.

Maas said Berlin also expected “clarity about the wellbeing” of the detained journalist, Roman Protasevich, and his girlfriend, saying both “must
be released immediately”.

He said a senior official at the ministry, Miguel Berger, would meet with Sidorenko, while EU leaders debate “consequences” at a summit in Brussels.

The Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius carrying Protasevich was diverted while in Belarusian airspace over a supposed bomb threat.

Accompanied by a Belarusian fighter jet on the orders of strongman Alexander Lukashenko, the plane landed in Minsk where Protasevich, a
26-year-old who had been living in Lithuania, was arrested along with his Russian girlfriend.