Sanctions Against Iran The Impact on Insurers and Reinsurers


Insurers and reinsurers could face serious, even criminal, charges if they breach draconian new rules on trade with Iran. Following UN Security Council Resolution 1929 on 9 June 2010, both the EU and the US have beefed up their sanctions regimes. We consider the recent changes and their potential effect on the insurance industry. The EU Position

The EU Council Decision

In a Council decision on 26 July 2010, the EU imposed its harshest sanctions yet on Iran, targeting the energy, transport, finance and insurance sectors. The EU Council's decision is binding on all EU member states, which must "ensure that their national policies conform to the Union positions".

Some sanctions have immediate effect; others—including those concerning insurance and reinsurance contracts—require further EU and member state legislation, which is expected later this year. Penalties for breach are likely to be severe against both individuals and companies, and could carry criminal charges.

Sanction Targets

The sanctions target a number of sectors: nuclear (Articles 1-3); energy refining, including exploration and production (Article 4), though there is no ban on the export of crude oil or LNG; financing of trade/the financial sector (Articles 5-12; Article 12 expressly deals with insurance and reinsurance); transport (Articles 15-18), including supplying services to Iranian vessels reasonably suspected of carrying embargoed goods; and named individuals and companies/assets controlled by them (Annexes 1 and 2).

In all relevant cases, there is a ban on providing financial assistance to any of the prohibited entities and this is almost certainly wide enough to embrace insurance contracts, even apart from the provisions of Article 12.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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