March 5, 2015 / 2:43 PM / 3 years ago

Europe's top court rejects Iranian trade bank's sanctions challenge

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Europe’s highest court threw out a challenge by a Hamburg-based Iranian trade bank to its inclusion on the European Union’s sanctions list on Thursday, a victory for the EU after a number of its Iran sanctions rulings were overturned by courts.

The EU had imposed an asset freeze on Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank (EIH) in 2011 as part of sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to address concerns over its nuclear program.

The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice upheld the ruling of a lower EU court, which said in September 2013 that transactions carried out by EIH on behalf of blacklisted Iranian organizations justified it being put on the sanctions list.

India had planned to use EIH as a conduit for paying for Iranian oil shipments until the EU imposed sanctions on it.

EU courts have annulled sanctions on a number of Iranian companies because of failings in the way the regulations were drawn up, but the EU has generally moved to re-impose them using different criteria.

EIH had no immediate comment on the ruling. In a statement on its website, the bank said it had always strictly complied with U.N. Security Council resolutions and EU regulations.

Six world powers and Iran have set an end-June deadline to reach an agreement that curbs sensitive Iranian nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief.

Additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Louise Ireland

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