IMF rejects call to close account with Iranian central bank

U.S.-based advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran calls on International Monetary Fund to end relations with Bank Markazi • Fund rejects call, says holdings of each member’s currency are maintained with the relevant member’s central bank • U.S. and EU say IMF is exempt from sanctions.

Israel Hayom Staff
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assures listeners that Iran has enough oil reserves to contend with sanctions. [Archive]

 
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Photo credit: AFP

 

 
 
 
 
 
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assures listeners that Iran has enough oil reserves to contend with sanctions. [Archive]

 
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Photo credit: AFP

 

The International Monetary Fund has rejected a call from a U.S. based anti-Iran advocacy group to disconnect from Iran’s central bank. The group, United Against Nuclear Iran, includes former U.S. diplomats and government officials, and had asked the IMF to close its account with Iran’s Bank Markazi, a specific target of U.S. and European sanctions, or to suspend Iran’s membership in the fund, according to the French news agency AFP.

 

The group also criticized IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde for meeting with Bank Markazi’s chief during last month’s IMF spring meeting in Washington, and for apparently „lavishing praise on Iran and Bank Markazi,” AFP reported.

 

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the advocacy group said, „The IMF must also stop treating the Iranian regime like a responsible government in good standing at a time when the international community is trying to isolate it. The IMF should not be hosting Iranian delegations in the U.S. and elsewhere, and Ms. Lagarde should stop lavishing praise on Iran and Bank Markazi.”

 

The group’s request was made originally in a letter from former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Mark D. Wallace, who served under former President George W. Bush.

 

„Bank Markazi is a financing enterprise for Iran’s illicit nuclear program, its sponsorship of global terror and its brutal repression of the Iranian people,” Wallace wrote. “It is clearly inappropriate that you would hold up Iran in public remarks as a model country to be emulated, even in the context of economic issues, at a time that the world is uniting to isolate Iran and Iranian entities such as Iran’s Central Bank in response to Iran’s irresponsible and illegal activities”

 

IMF spokesman William Murray responded that the only purpose of the IMF account at the bank was to hold Iranian moneys pledged to the fund as part of the country’s membership obligation to it, according to AFP.

 

The New York Times reported that U.S. Treasury Department spokesman John Sullivan said that both the U.S. and the EU regarded the IMF as exempt from American and European sanctions on Iran’s central bank.

 

Iran was one of the earliest members of the 188-member IMF, which was founded after World War II to promote international economic stability by setting exchange rates and assisting in reconstruction of the international payment structure. According to the IMF’s website, Iran has had no transactions with the fund since 1984.

 

„According to our constitution … the IMF’s holdings of each member’s currency are maintained with the central bank of the relevant member, including Iran,” Murray was quoted by AFP as saying. „There is nothing in the EU or U.S. sanctions that is inconsistent with these arrangements.”

 

On the call to suspend Iran’s IMF membership, AFP reported that Murray said: „This is a matter that is best taken up with the fund’s member countries. We have no comment.”