A South Korean businesswoman speaks on her mobile phone in front of the stand of French oil and gas company Total, at Iran's annual International Oil, Gas, Refining & Petrochemical Exhibition in Tehran, on May 6, 2014. AFP PHOTO/BEHROUZ MEHRI
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Major banks wary of heavy U.S. penalties will be reluctant to restore ties with Iran even if sanctions are lifted in a possible nuclear deal, bank executives and advisers say, likely denting Iran's ambition to attract foreign investment to revive its crippled economy.Banks recently hit by penalties include BNP Paribas and Commerzbank while several others including Deutsche Bank, Societe Generale and Credit Agricole are under investigation, according to people familiar with the matter.While that itself does not prohibit transactions, it would discourage banks from reopening business with Iran, bankers and sanctions experts said.BNP Paribas, JP Morgan, Barclays, Commerzbank, HSBC, Citigroup, and Credit Suisse declined to comment. Deutsche Bank declined comment on the investigation as well as on how the bank would react if sanctions are lifted as part of the nuclear deal. Banks based in countries such as China and India are likely to be less worried about the risks, because they have less business in the U.S. and do not believe their own countries would reimpose sanctions on Iran. These banks could expand their Iran business in the event of a deal, said Gary Hufbauer, a former Treasury official and sanctions expert at the Washington-based Peterson Institute.Banks have shied away even from legitimate trade with Iran.Other than that, the bank has no interest and will not pursue any private client business in Iran, he said.
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