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Business

US investigates Deutsche Bank over Iran transactions

US prosecutors say they have launched an investigation into Deutsche Bank. They are looking into claims it joined several global banks in carrying out transactions with Iran, Sudan and other sanctioned nations.

The US Justice Department and the Manhattan District Attorney's office are looking into claims that the banks used US branches to move billions of dollars for the sanctioned nations, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Financial firms were barred from transferring money for Iranian banks and companies after a loophole in US policy was closed in 2008.

The New York Times report noted that investigations remain in the early stages and Deutsche Bank is currently not suspected of moving money on behalf of Iranian clients through American operations after that cut-off point.

Deutsche Bank decided in 2007 it would "not engage in new business with counterparties in countries such as Iran, Syria, Sudan and North Korea and to exit existing business to the extent legally possible," a spokesman told the newspaper on Saturday. He declined to comment further.

The report came days after a New York banking watchdog and the London-based Standard Chartered bank reached a $340 million (202.8 billion euro) settlement over secret transactions with Iran.

The Manhattan District Attorney and federal authorities have not yet settled their investigation of the bank. As yet, however, prosecutors have found no evidence that the money transfers went to designated terrorists, drug cartels or individuals and companies owned or operated by countries under sanctions.

Once the authorities resolve their probe of Standard Chartered, they will proceed against the other banks they have been investigating, including Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank.

The United States has ramped up sanctions against Iranian banks, institutions and individuals over the last ten years. It's seeking to hinder Iran's nuclear enrichment programs amid concerns that Tehran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

ccp/av (AFP, Reuters)