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Iran's blocked assets in UAE- $5 B or $40 B?

Friday, June 19
A month after Iran's parliament got involved in a investigation case over $5.3 billion of blocked oil assets in the United Arab Emirates, a top official says new blocked assets in the UAE were revealed to be worth $35 billion.

The strangest issue is that Iran doesn't know whether the blocked assets still remain or not.

Akbar Torkan, a senior advisor to Iran 's President Hassan Rouhani, announced on June 16 that an outstanding debt of $35 billion has been discovered and a lawmaker announced on June 18 that traces of this amount was found in the UAE.

Torkan said the sum is part of the previous administration’s debts to the Central Bank of Iran and the facility was credited to NICO, an affiliate of the National Iranian Oil Company.

NICO (Naftiran Intertrade Company) is a Swiss-based Iranian company. It is a general contractor for the oil and gas industry and buys the vast majority of Iran 's gasoline imports. It is a key player in Iran 's energy sector.

The NICO’s financial director Mohammad Moeini had been added to the US Treasury’s list of entities under sanctions.

Before revealing the $35 billion in blocked assets, the energy commission of the Iranian parliament announced in May that it will investigate issues related to an alleged $5.3 billion oil debt of a United Arab Emirates company to Iran.

“Whether he is a broker, a middleman, or an intermediate is unknown. We do not have the exact information about the UAE company’s way of purchasing gas condensate consignments,” Amir Abbas Soltani, who is a member of the parliament's energy commission noted in May.

The Oil Ministry has said that the UAE company has settled $3 billion of the debt, but $5.3 billion remains unpaid.

Earlier, Mohsen Ghamsari, director for international affairs at the National Iranian Oil Company had said that the National Iranian Oil Company sold condensates directly to the UAE without any middleman involved. “But, due to the international sanctions, the UAE could not transfer petrodollars to Iran by the end of 2013. Through adopting proper policy, $3 billion of the total money was paid in 2014.”

It seems the story of $5.3 billion debts caused by Iranian Oil Ministry's own trade with the UAE is totally separate from the case of $35 billion in blocked assets.

Esmaeil Jalili, a member of Parliament's Planning and Budget Commission, told Hamshahri Daily on June 18 that "after investigation we found the trace of $35 billion blocked assets in the UAE, but it is not clear whether the amount remains still or not".

He said that NICO has sold crude oil, condensate and gas (LPG) to the UAE and with a minor volumes to European companies, then transferred the revenues to the UAE, but the assets were blocked there.

Before the mentioned case, Iran arrested a trader due to several billion dollars debts to the Oil Ministry.

After sanctions were imposed against the National Iranian Oil Company, Iran had to export a part of its oil by a trader with name Babak Zanjani.

In December 2014, Zanjani was accused of initiating an illegal $5.4 billion business deal, hanging on to money from oil sales ($3 billion) to the oil ministry and demanding that corruption charges be pursued against him. Zanjani was arrested days later. (