Ties with Iranian central bank essential – IMF

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International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde speaks at a press conference at the IMF and the World Bank Annual Spring Meetings in Washington on 21 April 2012.

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday rebuffed an anti-Iran American group’s call to cut its relations with Tehran’s central bank in order to comply with US-led economic sanctions.

The IMF insisted that its account with Bank Markazi is in relation to Iran’s membership with the IMF and does not contravene Western sanctions slapped on Tehran to stop it from developing nuclear weapons.

The advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran, a group of US ex-diplomats and government officials, demanded the IMF to shut down its account with Bank Markazi, a specific target of the sanctions, and suspend Iran’s membership in the fund.

It also criticised the IMF managing director, Christine Lagarde, for meeting with Bank Markazi’s chief during the IMF’s spring meeting last month in Washington, and for allegedly “lavishing praise on Iran and Bank Markazi.”

“The IMF must also stop treating the Iranian regime like a responsible government in good standing at a time when the international community is trying to isolate it,” the group said in a statement.

IMF spokesman William Murray said the global fund’s account at the central bank in Tehran merely holds the Iranian funds committed to the IMF as an obligation of its membership.

“According to our constitution… the IMF’s holdings of each member’s currency are maintained with the central bank of the relevant member, including Iran,” Murray said.

“There is nothing in the EU or US sanctions regimes that is inconsistent with these arrangements.”

As for UANI’s call to suspend Iran’s membership in the 188-member Fund, Murray said: “This is a matter that is best taken up with the Fund’s member countries. We have no comment.”

Mark Wallace, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, is the UANI group president which is comprised of former US diplomats, security officials, academics and others aimed at raising pressure on Tehran.

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