Acourt in Germany has ordered Deutsche Telekom, a partly state-owned telecom provider, to reactivate phone and internet services for the Hamburg branch of Bank Melli Iran.
In a report on Thursday, German business newspaper Handelsblatt said Germany's part state-owned telecom provider Deutsche Telekom had cut off Bank Melli's Hamburg office. It was not clear when the branch lost its phone and internet services.
Handelsblatt quoted Deutsche Telekom as sending Bank Melli a message, saying: "We have to assume that you can no longer make any payments" for telecom services.
In a preliminary injunction, the Hamburg district court ordered Deutsche Telekom to reactivate the services for Bank Melli, arguing that the justification was not sufficient for a termination without notice, especially as the bank has so far fulfilled its obligations and has sufficient resources, Der Spiegel reported Friday.
A court spokesman later confirmed the Spiegel report, telling the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) that the injunction had originally been issued on Tuesday.
Deutsche Telekom’s move to discontinue its services for Bank Melli came after the bank even offered to pay the bills for one year in advance.
Both Der Spiegel and the DPA questioned the company’s account, writing that the move to disconnect the bank was apparently based on concerns that its T-Mobile subsidiary could be penalized in the US for violating Washington's sanctions against Iran.
Submitting to Trump’s Pressures
Helmut Gottlieb, the director of the Hamburg-based Bank Melli, said it's interesting that a state-owned company like Telekom is giving in to US President Donald Trump’s pressures, especially when neither the German government nor the European Union has issued its own sanctions against Iran.
Bank Melli is among dozens of Iranian banks subjected to US sanctions reimposed by the Trump administration Nov. 5 to isolate Iran's financial sector and pressure Tehran to negotiate a new deal.
US President Donald Trump withdrew in May from a 2015 deal in which his predecessor and five other world powers granted Iran sanctions relief in return for a freeze on its nuclear program.
In an editorial published last Friday, German business newspaper Handelsblatt criticized the Deutsche Telekom’s move as "cynical." It also accused the German government and central bank of "doing nothing" to ensure that Bank Melli can make legal payments to German institutions.
"Where is the help for German companies? Where is the defense of Germany's sovereignty?" the German publication asked.
The Trump administration launched the second wave of sanctions against Iran on November 5, targeting Iran’s oil sales, its wider energy industry, shipping, banking, insurance and so on.
Meanwhile, the European Union is trying to create a mechanism to maintain banking channels with Iran in the face of US sanctions.
Diplomats already announced that the main EU powers – Germany, France and Britain – were trying to push ahead a plan to create a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) through which banking transactions with Iran could be carried out.