Israel holding Iran money over 70s debt

Reports say Israel is holding at least $250 million of Iran’s money in a mysterious bank account.

Reports say Israel is holding at least $250 million of Iran’s money in a mysterious bank account.

Israel is holding at least $250 million of Iran’s money in a mysterious bank account, the Israeli media have reported.

Reports say a mysterious bank account managed by the Bank of Israel in the past 30 years held, as records showed at the end of 2013, $256 million belonging to Iran. The money is believed to be owed to the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) for oil deals made before Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Over the years, transactions of an unclear nature have been made with the money stored in the account, Haaretz reported. It added that Israel withdrew most of the money from the account 15 years ago, but then filled it again with “deposits of unknown origin”.

Financial reports made public by the Bank of Israel do not give further information, and the Finance Ministry treats them as a state secret, Haaretz added.

A large share of the Iranian money still kept in Israel’s hands are believed to have been related to some 800,000 tons of Iranian crude oil that had been left in a major pipeline constructed by Iran and Israel during the era of the shah.  The value of the crude oil has been estimated to have been $120 million at the time and about $400 million today, reports say.

It has also been reported that Iran has already started legal proceedings through international courts in Paris and Geneva to take the money back. In 2004, Iran sued Israel for $800 million, an amount it said was equal to all the assets in the joint pipeline venture.

In December 2014, it was reported that after some 20 years of legal battles, a Swiss arbitration panel has issued a preliminary ruling that could force Israel to pay Iran at least $50 million in compensation for an oil pipeline.

Israel initially refused to take part in the proceedings and tried several times to stop them in European courts, Israeli media say. A Swiss court turned down one of its petitions in 2012. Last year an appeal to the Swiss Federal Court was also rejected, and Israel was forced to pay $250,000 in court costs.

By Press TV