Controversy Engulfs UK Banks Over Iranian Petrochemical Connections

  • Lloyds and Santander are reported to have offered banking services to front companies owned by the sanctioned Iranian Petrochemical Commercial Company (PCC).
  • PCC, accused of funding the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and collaborating with Russian intelligence, operated through non-sanctioned holding companies.
  • The banks have responded by emphasizing their commitment to legal and regulatory obligations, including sanctions compliance.

UK banks have provided bank accounts to holding companies linked to a state-backed Iranian petrochemicals company which has been under western sanctions since 2018, according to reports. The Financial Times reported that both Lloyds and Santander provided accounts to British front companies owned by Petrochemical Commercial Company (PCC).

PCC is a sanctioned Iranian petrochemicals company accused by the US of helping to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and of working with Russian intelligence agencies. Both PCC and its subsidiaries have been under UK and US sanctions since 2018. The company has continued to operate out of an office in Grosvenor Gardens by using a web of holding companies that are not sanctioned, the report suggests.

According to the FT, PCC has used these companies to receive funds from Iranian front entities in China while concealing their real ownership. One of these companies, Pisco UK, used a business account with Santander UK. Another, called Aria Associates, has an account with Lloyds. A Santander UK spokesperson said the bank was “unable to comment on specific client relationships” but stated the bank “abides by its legal and regulatory obligations, and we are highly focused on sanctions compliance.”

“Where we identify sanctions risks, we will investigate and take appropriate action,” they said. A Lloyds Banking Group spokesperson said: “The group’s business activities are conducted to ensure compliance with applicable sanctions laws. We are committed to adhering to all legislative and regulatory requirements as they relate to economic crime.” “We are not permitted to comment on individual customers. In addition, due to legal restrictions, we cannot comment on the submission of suspicious activity reports to relevant authorities when and if they occur,” they continued. The revelations come as tensions continue to rise between the west and Iran. The US carried out further airstrikes against the Iranian-backed Houthis on Sunday. The UK government has been approached for comment.