Mahathir says Malaysia is being forced and bullied by ‘very powerful people’ into closing bank accounts of Iranians

“It’s a kind of bullying by very powerful people,” Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said of the spate of bank account closures encountered by Iranians living in Malaysia.
The Straits Times

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says the nation is being forced to make life difficult for Iranians living there, and measures include mass closures of their bank accounts.

On Wednesday (Oct 30), Reuters said that close to a dozen Iranians had reported that banks in Malaysia were closing their accounts against their wishes.

An Iranian university lecturer based in Malaysia even described the banks as being “more Catholic than the Pope”, Reuters said.

According to Reuters, the lecturer, Behrang Samadi, is just one of 10,000 Iranians living n Malaysia. He had held his CIMB account for 14 years before he found out in August that it would be closed.

He told Reuters that he was given a one-month warning, and withdrew his money as a result. However, he was still able to access the account online after the deadline.

Reuters also reported that many Iranians with CIMB accounts received messages that said: “We regret to inform (you) that we are unable to continue the banking relationship.”

No reason was given for the closures.

Hours after the Reuters report, Mahathir rold reporters at a meeting for the National Students Consultative Council that Malaysia was being “forced to do it by certain quarters”, New Straits Times (NST) reported.

“Our ties are very strong with Tehran. But, we face very strong pressures from certain quarters which you may guess… And, it is very difficult (not to comply) because we receive threats about closing our banks abroad,” he was quoted as saying.

“It’s a kind of bullying by very powerful people,” he added.

The premier did not specify who these powerful people were, or name any other countries involved.

The Trump government has so far been the most vocal opposer of Iran’s nuclear programme, and imposed sanctions on the country in 2018.

Most recently, the US and six Gulf countries agreed to jointly impose sanctions on 25 parties linked to Iran. “The president couldn’t be more clear that we are executing a maximum pressure campaign on Iran,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was quoted by Reuters as saying.

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