Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Governor Abdolnasser Hemmati says the country expects South Korean banks holding some $7 billion in Iranian funds to pay damages because of their failure in the past two years to release the resources amid constant pressure by the United States.
Hemmati told The Bloomberg in a written interview published on Tuesday that banking and financial experts should determine the amount of damage suffered by Iran for the period it has been unable to access its funds in South Korea.
“… we believe that those Korean banks should pay the damage suffered by the Islamic Republic of Iran during these two years,” he said.
The comments came more than a week after Hemmati met a political delegation from South Korea as the two countries continue to discuss how they can unblock the funds in the face of American sanctions on Tehran.
Iran has been dissatisfied with Seoul’s level of commitment on the issue, with authorities saying that other countries where Iran has similar frozen funds have come up with a solution on the case.
“Our other partners could find some ways so that we can use resources to import humanitarian goods, but the Korean government did not propose any reliable channel in this regard,” Hemmati said in his interview.
He also said that South Korean authorities visiting Tehran had made promises similar to those made in the past that they would do whatever they can to release the funds.
The CBI chief said that his meeting with the South Korean delegation had been solely focused on the issue of funds and that there was no mention during the meeting of a South Korean tanker seized by Iranian military forces earlier this month in the Persian Gulf.
Iran has consistently asserted that the tanker seizure is a purely technical and environmental issue which should be addressed by Iranian judicial authorities.