Swiss banking giant UBS AG said Sunday it has stopped doing business with Iran because of the company's economic and risk analysis of the situation in the country.
UBS will no longer deal with individuals, companies or state institutions such as Iran's central bank, company spokesman Serge Steiner said. A similar policy is also being implemented in the case of Syria, he said.
All existing business with customers in Iran will be canceled, but Iranians in exile are not affected by the decision, Steiner said, confirming an article in Swiss weekly SonntagsZeitung.
High costs deriving from uncertainty about security and regulatory matters in Iran meant the business was no longer worth continuing, the bank said. The decision was not driven by political motives, the spokesman added.
"We started to exit customer relationships with counterparties in Iran in autumn last year," Steiner said. UBS is the world's largest asset manager and its decision will be closely watched by rivals.
Iran is under increasing international pressure over its nuclear program and mindful of the freezing of its U.S. assets after the 1979 seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran. The nation has an estimated USD 50 billion in European banks and Iran's Central Bank governor said over the weekend that it will move its reserves quickly if it deems it necessary to do so.
Steiner declined to specify the volume of business affected by the bank's decision.