MAHATHIR CONFIRMS REUTERS' REPORT
NO BANK ACCOUNTS FOR IRANIANS IN MALAYSIA, INDIVIDUAL OR COMPANIES
Existing accounts are forced to be closed, "this is the kind of bullying by very powerful people," Dr M said
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today confirmed report by Reuters earlier on the same day, explaining that the country was pressured into closing bank accounts of Iranian individuals and companies, but maintained that ties with Tehran were good.
"We are forced to close the bank accounts by certain quarters. If we don’t, they will close our banks abroad,” he said, adding that one could guess who these quarters were.
Mahathir was speaking to reporters after attending the education ministry’s National Education Advisory Council (MPPK) meeting in Putrajaya.
Also present were Education Minister Maszlee Malik and his deputy Teo Nie Ching.
When it was highlighted to him that such action would make it difficult for Iranians in the country to move around, Mahathir said “that was the purpose”.
He said it did not mean Malaysia was “helping” to stifle the movement of Iranians here, reiterating that the country was forced to take the action.
“This is the kind of bullying by very powerful people,” he said.
Earlier today, Reuters reported that banks in Malaysia are closing the accounts of Iranian individuals and companies, believed to be linked to sanctions imposed by Washington.
Despite Washington’s sanctions over Iran’s nuclear programme imposed late last year, Malaysia has kept up good diplomatic ties with Tehran, and last week, their leaders discussed ways to further strengthen ties.
It was not clear if the account closures were linked to the tracking of an Iranian oil tanker offshore Malaysia this year, a development that annoyed the US.