Switzerland & Iran developing payment channel to bypass US sanctions

A special financial mechanism aimed at maintaining trade ties between Switzerland and Iran is ready for implementation, according to Sharif Nezam-Mafi, the head of the countries’ joint chamber of commerce.

He told IRNA news agency that the clearing house will be used to facilitate Iran’s oil transactions with its major Asian crude customers – namely India, China and South Korea.

“Currently, there is no money belonging to Iran in Europe. Most of Iran’s money is in India, China and South Korea which import Iranian crude,” said the head of the Iran-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce.

According to Nezam-Mafi, once Iranian oil money flows from Asia to Europe, the Swiss financial channel will start to work immediately. He said the Swiss government has already designated an operating bank, but has not yet formally announced its name.

READ MORE: Iran considers SWIFT payment system alternative to bypass US sanctions

Swiss ambassador to Tehran, Marcos Lightner, also told the news agency that the two sides are preparing an independent payment channel in addition to the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). He said that, although Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, it is steadfastly following the issue of the implementation of the SPV. European countries are trying to maintain the Iran nuclear deal, the diplomat emphasized.

The Iran-Switzerland payment channel is designed to bypass US sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic after Washington ditched the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran last year.

The European Union is also working on a financial mechanism to ease non-dollar trade with Iran and circumvent US sanctions. It hopes the SPV announced in September will keep the nuclear deal alive. Tehran will be able to stay on board while foreign companies will be given a way of trading with the country without violating Washington’s sanctions.

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