A woman enters a currency exchange shop in Tehran's business district in this October 24, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/
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European banks are tentatively re-engaging with Iran as the Middle East's second-largest economy slowly emerges from a sanctions regime that has kept it in the financial wilderness for years. Belgium's KBC, Germany's DZ Bank and Austria's Erste Bank all confirmed when contacted by the Financial Times that they have started handling transactions on behalf of European clients doing business in Iran. However, bigger European banks remain on the sidelines alongside their US rivals, scarred by a string of multibillion-dollar fines for earlier sanctions breaches in Iran. However, bankers say there have been few, if any, Iranian payments sent via Swift, partly because the country's banks need to upgrade to the latest Swift software, but mainly because so few foreign banks will deal with them.US regulators have imposed by far the biggest fines for sanctions violations and European banks with large operations in America are reluctant to risk any links to Iran.
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