European Union courts have quietly rolled back economic sanctions on several Iranian banks that have long been suspected of transferring funds to terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The announcement of the removal of Iran’s Bank Saderat from the E.U.’s sanctions list has caused concern among experts and some on Capitol Hill who warn the E.U.’s decision could erase years of progress on the economic sanctions front.
Bank Saderat is at least the third Iranian bank to have won an E.U. sanctions reprieve since December.
An E.U. court recently ruled that the sanctions against Bank Saderat were “illegal” and ordered they be removed, according to reports in Iran’s state run media.
“The General Court of the European Union consequently ruled that the sanctions imposed against the Iranian bank were illegal and accepted the bank’s request to lift the restrictions,” Iran’s Press TV quoted the bank as saying in a statement.
Western sanctions experts dubbed the move as dangerous.
Additionally, Iran’s Bank Mellat won an appeal in a European court, which agreed sanctions imposed against it were unwarranted, according to reports.
Sanctions were initially imposed on the bank by the E.U. in 2010 on the grounds that the financial institution was “facilitating Iran’s nuclear program,” according to Fox Business.
The E.U. lifted sanctions on a third Iranian bank in December, according to Fars.
The European Union’s highest judicial authority also overturned sanctions against Iran’s Bank Sina in December.
The removal of the E.U.’s sanctions could allow these banks to continue bankrolling Tehran’s illicit activities, experts warned.