Georgia Says It Froze Iranians’ Accounts

from The Wall Street Journal..

June 21, 2013

By JAY SOLOMON and BENOÎT FAUCON

The Georgian government froze approximately 150 bank accounts tied to Iranian businesses and individuals in order to comply with United Nations sanctions aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear program, officials in Tbilisi said.

Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani announced the freezing of the Iranian bank accounts at a Friday news conference, in response to questions about a front-page article in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that documented a sharp increase of investment by Iranians in Georgia over the past two years. Georgian government officials said the accounts were frozen before Thursday.

U.S. and European officials have voiced growing concerns that Iran is seeking to use Georgia and its financial system to evade mounting international sanctions that are aimed at denying Tehran the ability to produce atomic weapons. Iran says its program is strictly for peaceful purposes.

…….

The issue of Iranian investments in Georgia has emerged as a prickly issue for Washington and Tbilisi, close allies since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union.

The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, in response to the Journal’s article, issued a statement Friday confirming its concerns about Iran seeking to use Georgia to evade sanctions.

The American mission stressed that it believed U.S. relations with Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili remain strong.

“We see undiminished interest on the part of Georgia’s government in strong relations with the U.S., and a continued strong desire for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration,” the U.S. Embassy statement said.

Link to the entire article:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323300004578559863908220032.html?KEYWORDS=Georgia

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