BRUSSELS (AP) — European companies doing business with Iran could face legal troubles if they have terminated their contracts with Iranian banks or firms solely because of fears about possible U.S. sanctions, according to a legal opinion handed down Wednesday by a top EU court advisor.
To protect European interests and help Iran’s moribund economy, the EU introduced a "blocking statute” shielding companies in the 27-nation bloc. However, many big firms do more business in the United States than in Iran and some quickly severed ties rather than risk running afoul of U.S. sanctions.
In Wednesday’s legal opinion, Advocate General Gerard Hogan said that European companies should justify why they are cutting business ties with Iranian banks and enterprises to prove they aren’t simply caving in under the threat of U.S. sanctions.
The opinion is nonbinding, but the European Court of Justice often follows such legal guidance and could well do so again when the Luxembourg-based court rules on the case involving Bank Melli, Iran’s biggest bank, probably in coming months.