Wednesday, June 19, 2013

UK Supreme court quashes Iran bank sanctions

London, Jun 19 - Britain's Supreme Court today delivered a landmark judgement dismissing claims that an Iranian bank's services facilitated the country's controversial nuclear programme.

Bank Mellat, Iran's largest private bank, had appealed against the UK's decision to include it on a nuclear sanctions list.

In two related judgments, the supreme court ordered the Treasury to remove sanctions against Bank Mellat and said that in future, appeal courts should go into closed session Òonly where it has been convincingly demonstrated to be genuinely necessary in the interests of justiceÓ, British newspaper Guardian reported.

The Tehran-based bank has been fighting to have the sanctions lifted since 2009. The UK Treasury alleged that the bank had financed firms involved in Iran's nuclear weapons programme.

In order to justify the allegations, the Treasury asked the supreme court to go into a secret session for the first time this spring.

ÒToday's ruling is a victory for the rule of law as much as it is for Bank Mellat,Ó said Sarosh Zaiwalla, senior partner of Zaiwalla and Co. Solicitors the NRI law firm that fought the appeal on behalf of Bank Mellat.

The case was heard by nine out of the total 12 Supreme Court judges as part of the closed session.
Today's result follows a victory in the European Court in January 2013, where no evidence was found connecting Bank Mellat to the Iranian government's nuclear programme.

The ruling will come as a relief to Iran's newly-elected President, who commentators hope will be working towards a mutually acceptable resolution of Iran's nuclear activity.

The UK Supreme Court is now expected to order the British government to pay Bank Mellat its legal costs and damages.

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