London: A top European court has declared sanctions imposed by the EU Council against Bank Mellat, Iran's largest private bank, as unlawful.
In a ruling, the General Court of the European Union said "there is no evidence to justify the European Council's decision to list Bank Mellat under its Iran sanctions list.
"The European Council had in 2010 included Bank Mellat on its 'blacklist' of designated entities presumed to be involved with Iran's nuclear proliferation programme.
The EU Council had listed Bank Mellat on the basis that it is a state-owned entity (even though state ownership was only 20 per cent) involved with the nuclear proliferation project in Iran.
The Bank was one of several Iranian Banks that were included by the EU Council on the blacklist in a policy move that was designed to put pressure on the Iranian financial sector.
The Bank had challenged this listing on the basis that it is not a state-owned bank and the EU Council has no evidence of any wrongdoing or links with Iran's nuclear programme on the part of the bank.
Sarosh Zaiwalla of law firm Zaiwalla & Co who acted for Bank Mellat before the European Court, welcomed the court ruling saying "The European Court of Justice has concluded that fairness and the rule of law are more important than temporary political objectives".
"Bank Mellat is expected to claim substantial damages against the Council of European States for its unlawful listing," he said.
Following the Court's decision, the Bank will now be able to commence trading internationally and try and recover from the losses incurred over the last three years since the sanctions were imposed, he said.