Three accounting firms pull out of Iran

Grant Thornton and two other accounting firms are pulling out of Iran, creating further difficulties for foreign companies still operating in the country.

RSM, a UK-based firm, and Crowe Horwath of the US have joined Grant Thornton, one of the second-tier international accountancy firms, in leaving Iran after coming under US political pressure.

The firms are the latest in a long list of international businesses which have left Iran in recent years amid strict economic sanctions that have been imposed on Tehran in an effort to influence its nuclear programme.

For the campaigners who are trying to squeeze the Iranian economy, internationally-respected auditors are an important target because they provide the sort of independent scrutiny that some multinationals require in order to maintain operations in foreign countries. The “big four” accounting firms pulled out of Iran in 2010.

“It sends an important message when accountancy firms decide that it is too risky to do business in Iran,” said Mark Wallace, the head of United Against Nuclear Iran, a lobby group. “Without respected auditors, it makes it much harder for other international companies to continue doing business there.”

Grant Thornton, the UK-based firm, said that it was terminating its relationship with Rymand & Co, an Iranian accounting firm, and said it would not conduct further business in Iran. RSM said it would cease working with Dayarayan Auditing & Financial Services, while Crowe Horwath said it would cut ties with Hoshiyar/Behmand & Co.

The latest withdrawals come as influential members of Congress are calling for even tougher sanctions to be placed on Iran after the latest round of talks between Tehran and international powers over its nuclear programme broke up without any apparent breakthroughs.

Over the past eighteen months, Congress has passed a series of new sanctions on Iran that have targeted its financial sector and energy companies.

However, the Obama administration is also coming under pressure from other quarters to offer bigger concessions to Iran in return for measures to unwind some of its nuclear activities.

“First and foremost we believe the President needs to make the decision that ‘I want a deal’ and instruct his people to get a deal,” Tom Pickering, the former senior state department official, said last week at the launch of a report by The Iran Project, a group of former military and government officials who urge improved ties with Iran.

The Iran Project is not responsible for the content of quoted articles.