Iran to use $6 billion in unfrozen funds to purchase commodities exempted from US sanctions: Central bank head

Iran to use $6 billion in unfrozen funds to purchase commodities exempted from US sanctions: Central bank head

Funds unfrozen under Iran, US deal involving prisoner swap

​​​​​​​By Syed Zafar Mehdi

TEHRAN (AA) - Iran's top banker announced Saturday that Iranian funds frozen in South Korea have been released following a prisoner swap deal with Washington.

Mohammad Reza Farzin, the head of the Central Bank of Iran, said in a social media post that the released amount will be deposited to Iranian bank accounts in Qatar.

He hastened to add that the funds will be used for purchasing commodities that are exempted from US sanctions.

Iran's Foreign Ministry confirmed Thursday a prisoner exchange deal with the US, ending two years of negotiations, with each side releasing five prisoners.

A statement noted that Tehran received a "necessary guarantee" for Washington's "commitment in this regard," referring to the release of around $10 billion in funds blocked in South Korea and Iraq.

Iran's state media cited officials who said the American prisoners will be freed from Evin Prison "within the framework of an agreement mediated by a third country" and only after the funds are transferred to Iranian bank accounts in Qatar.

Farzin said the country had nearly $7 billion stacked in South Korean banks in the Korean currency, won, but due to the devaluation of the currency in recent years, the amount tumbled to $6 billion.

He said a third party, in a veiled reference to Qatar, has agreed to change the funds from won to euro and deposit them into six Iranian banks in Qatar.

Pertinently, Qatar and Oman played a key role in facilitating the prisoner swap agreement as well as the unblocking of Iranian funds in South Korea and Iraq.

The White House said Friday there would be restrictions on how Iran intends to use the funds, with spokesman John Kirby saying the US would have "full visibility" where they are directed and used.

The deal came less than one week after the Iranian parliament approved a bill to refer the case of frozen funds in Seoul for arbitration after President Ebrahim Raisi wrote a letter to speaker Baqer Qalibaf.

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