Iran eyes collecting interest from S. Korean lenders over previously frozen funds: sources

Teheran is reviewing collecting interest from South Korean lenders over their past withholding of around US$6 billion in Iranian funds under United States sanctions, according to sources Tuesday, after Seoul released the funds in a prisoner swap deal between Washington and Teheran.

According to Iranian diplomatic sources, Teheran authorities have begun a legal review of seeking interest for the funds that were previously frozen by the Bank of Korea, the Industrial Bank of Korea and Woori Bank over the past four years or so.

An Iranian government official, who declined to be identified, said South Korean financial institutions unfairly earned interest income due to what it described as illegal sanctions by the U.S.

The official said it was only natural for the lenders to return the interest to the rightful owner.

A Seoul foreign ministry official, meanwhile, said Iran's move was "not in line with the spirit of agreement between the relevant countries."

"All the details related to the transfer of the frozen funds have been carried out based on agreements with the relevant countries, including Iran," the Seoul official said.

Relations between South Korea and Iran had remained tense as the Islamic republic had demanded the transfer of its frozen money. The demand had posed a diplomatic challenge to Seoul, which sought to strengthen its treaty alliance with Washington and its economic partnership with Tehran.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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