Iran has been trying to bypass US and EU sanctions slapped on its oil exports by going through Swiss traders. It is also circumventing restrictions on wire transfers by receiving payments for oil exported to Turkey in gold. Sanctions have cut Iran’s oil exports by almost 50% since the beginning of the year, so Iranian executives are trying to get around this by attempting to sell crude oil via major international traders based in the Alpine state. At the center of this coordinated effort, managed, according to French economic daily Les Echoes, by Iran’s Vice-President Ibrahim Azizi are two of NIOC’s Lausanne-based companies, Naftiran Intertrade Company (NICO) and Petro-Suisse. Mr Azizi ordered the heads of NIOC to use diplomatic protection offered by Switzerland’s commitment to enforce only UN-approved sanctions, rather than the harsher EU measures, in order to sell its crude.

Vitol, Glencore, Gunvor, Trafigura and Mercuria control around one third of all internationally traded oil contracts and have been – prior to the EU sanctions – some of Iran’s most loyal partners. (CONTINUED - 907 WORDS)