“An environment of risk and uncertainty looms large for the shareholders and executives of Italian companies considering doing business in Iran. Their big bet could turn into a disastrous gamble given the enormous financial, legal, and reputational risks they would face in re-entering the Iranian market.
With vast swathes of Iran’s economy dominated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which remains sanctioned by the U.S. Government and the global community as a terrorist organization, these corporations are subject to a complex patchwork of sanctions and regulations. Furthermore, Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act continues to designate the entire Iranian financial sector as a jurisdiction of ‘primary money laundering concern.’ The international anti-money laundering and terror-finance watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), recently warned of Iran’s ‘failure to address the risk of terrorist financing and the serious threat this poses to the integrity of the international financial system.’
The result saddles these and other companies with the risk of heavy financial penalties and impairment of lucrative business opportunities in other countries in the region, which are threatened by the IRGC’s aggressive and destabilizing activities.
Prime Minister Renzi should also appreciate that both the American and Italian people share a deep suspicion of the Iranian regime, particularly given the heightened intensity of its threatening conduct. Last month, for example, in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, Iran test-fired long-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads that were inscribed in Hebrew with the regime’s axiom, ‘Israel must be wiped out.’
Given Iran’s unwillingness to change its bad behavior, Prime Minister Renzi should concentrate his efforts on pressuring Tehran to halt its destabilizing and provocative activities, rather than prematurely rewarding the regime with lucrative business opportunities.”
Following the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), UANI initiated an intensive international campaign warning companies worldwide about the substantial legal, financial, and reputational risks of doing business in Iran. UANI has identified a number of leading Italian companies in this campaign, and is currently in communication with the leadership of Eni, Finmeccanica, Fiat and Danieli to raise concerns about potential investment or pursuit of business deals in Iran.
As part of the launch, UANI also released an open letter detailing the many hazards that business with Iran could trigger, signed by dozens of prominent defense and foreign policy experts. Signatories include former Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend, former Acting and Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Senators Kit Bond and Norm Coleman, Ambassador Dennis Ross, and former National Security Advisor to the Vice President John Hannah, among others. The letter calls on the global business community to fully consider the potentially grave consequences of business ties to Iran, citing a host of risks.
UANI is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan, advocacy group founded in 2008 by Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, former CIA Director Jim Woolsey and Middle East Expert Dennis Ross, that seeks to heighten awareness of the danger the Iranian regime poses to the world.