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Source: Reuters

Feb 13, 2024

Santander says internal review found no breach of US sanctions against Iran

MADRID, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Spain's Santander (SAN.MC), opens new tab on Tuesday said "categorically" that after a thorough investigation it had not found any breach of U.S. sanctions against Iran following a Financial Times report on Iranian-linked accounts.

The Financial Times (FT) newspaper reported last week that Iran used accounts held at Santander and at Lloyds (LLOY.L), opens new tab in the United Kingdom to covertly move money around the world in a sanctions-evasion scheme backed by Iran's intelligence services.

In an internal memo, first reported by Bloomberg News and also seen by Reuters, the global head of communications said Santander had carried out a broader review of other persons associated with entities and individuals identified in the FT article and said it "had not found any sanctions breach in any other part of the bank's global operations."

The FT reported that Lloyds and Santander UK provided accounts to British front companies allegedly secretly owned by a sanctioned Iranian petrochemicals company based in London.

Both Santander and Lloyds had said last week that they believed they were not in breach of sanctions, based on their own investigations.

According to the FT, the Iranian state-controlled Petrochemical Commercial Company (PCC) was part of a network that the United States accuses of raising hundreds of millions of dollars for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force and of working with Russian intelligence agencies.

Both PCC and its British subsidiary PCC UK have been under U.S. sanctions since November 2018, the FT said.

One of its alleged front companies, called Pisco UK, is registered to a detached house in Surrey and used a business account with Santander UK, the FT report said.

Santander said in its memo on Tuesday that the account was closed in 2022 for reasons unrelated to these allegations.

"Neither the account holder nor the identified owners of the business were targeted for sanctions during the life of the account and none is today," Santander said.

The bank further said that the amounts transacted in the account while it was open were "negligible."

Reporting by Jesús Aguado; Editing by Chris Reese, Catarina Demony, William Maclean

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