It’s time to act: Iran’s top banker tells IMF

TEHRAN, Apr. 20 (MNA) – Governor of the Central Bank of Iran, Abdolnaser Hemmati, urged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to resist US pressure and approve its application for financing to help curb the coronavirus pandemic.

The Islamic Republic asked the IMF on March 6 for $5 billion in loans to help finance its efforts to combat the disease, while its efforts have been challenges by the US’ economic terrorism. While the US has said it will block the application, on April 15 the IMF’s director for the Middle East and Central Asia said it’s proceeding with Iran’s request for assistance.

“The last time I checked, it’s not the United States running the IMF, but its management and the board of governors who oversee the work and ensure that the IMF delivers on its mandate,” Hemmati told Bloomberg.

While the US claims sanctions do not apply to humanitarian goods such as pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and food, Iran says they are preventing it from accessing its own money, which is frozen overseas and hurting its ability to pay for imports.

“We have lost so many lives, as the Americans and Europeans have lost, and my thoughts and prayers go with them,” Hemmati said, appealing directly to Kristalina Georgieva, chair and managing director of the IMF. “The time to act is now.”

According to Hemmati, US sanctions and its decision to add the Iranian central bank to its list of “specially designated nationals and blocked persons” in September 2019 prevent Iran from accessing its own money, which would be “more than enough” to cover the 10 billion-euro shortfall.

“Central Bank reserves are under US sanctions overseas, which is illegal and unilateral, and I want to be clear about this. What we are saying is that the sanctions should be lifted altogether, however, sadly, there are actors in the US government that have little regard for international law and order,” Hemmati said.

Hemmati noted that he has told the IMF that a loan could be channeled directly into the EU’s INSTEX trade vehicle and the SHTA, a financial channel run by the Swiss government to allow Swiss-based food and pharmaceutical companies to send goods to Iran.

“These are specifically designed to help us import food and medicine,” Hemmati said. “These channels have proper safeguarding mechanisms in place to address all concerns, if any.”

Hemmati said Iran had requested 100% of its quota in the IMF, equivalent to 3.6 billion Standard Drawing Rights.

MNA/IRN83757206/PR

News Code 157809

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