EU Court Rules Iran Bank Assets Should Not Have Been Frozen

The European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that the assets of Iran's Bank Mellat should not have been frozen from 2010, dismissing an appeal brought by the European Council. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/Files

BRUSSELS, Feb 18 – The European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that the assets of Iran’s Bank Mellat should not have been frozen from 2010, dismissing an appeal brought by the European Council.

The Council, the grouping of the EU’s 28 member states, froze the funds of a number of Iranian financial entities from 2010 to combat Iranian activities that could have led to it developing nuclear weapons.

In Bank Mellat’s case, the Council said that it engaged in conduct which supported and facilitated Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

The second-tier General Court accepted Bank Mellat’s challenge in 2013, prompting an appeal to the European Court of Justice.

That court agreed with the General Court that the reasoning set out did not enable Bank Mellat to establish which banking services it provided to which entities, particularly as the persons whose accounts it managed were not identified.

“Since all the measures concerning Bank Mellat have been annulled, its funds are deemed not to have been frozen between 26 July 2010 (date of first freezing measure) and 16 January 2016 (date on which the freeze was lifted),” the court said.

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