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FAQ

 

Why should I use the Helpdesk?

Since EU sanctions target certain Iranian entities and individuals and forbid certain transactions with Iran in specific sectors, the Helpdesk provides EU SMEs with a free-of-charge initial assessment of their proposed business transaction that highlights any potential risk of countervailing EU sanctions. This assures you and your potential financial institution that the business activity is legitimate under EU legislation, reducing your transaction costs. 

How should I approach the due diligence process?

After you have identified a potential business partner for your planned business activities in Iran, announce it about your intention to use the free-of-charge services of the Helpdesk to assess whether the proposed business activities are legitimate under EU sanctions. Both partners will provide a minimum necessary set of information that allows the Helpdesk to carry the due diligence procedures and elaborate a detailed Output Report, that will be made available to your company only. 

What if my Iranian Business Partner is unable or does not agree to provide certain information as required by the Helpdesk?

You should further communicate to the Iranian partner that in the context of EU restrictive measures on Iran, the Helpdesk is designed to help European and Iranian companies to actually engage in business, risk-free. Providing sufficient information is in the best interest of the Iranian partner in order to build trust and make trade with the EU possible.

Information provided by both companies, as well as the risks identified, will be used solely by the Helpdesk for the due diligence process, will not be made available to each other nor to any third party, and will be kept in full confidentiality and respect to GDPR legislation.

In the absence of certain information, which constitutes in itself a risk factor, the Helpdesk will carry verification from independent sources to the furthest extend possible. However, the Helpdesk might not be able to deliver a conclusive risk assessment and therefore, the output report will not determine accurately whether the transaction and/or the Iranian business partner are subject to EU restrictive measures (sanctions). 

How long does it take to generate the Output Report?

The Output Report will be generated following completion and submission of all documents required for due diligence, provided both by the EU SME and its Iranian Business Partner and upon verification of the documentation by the Helpdesk legal team. The overall length of the process depends on the complexity of the case. It could take about two weeks in non-problematic cases after the submission of all required documentation, but may last considerably longer if in-depth checks are required. We will guide you through this process on the basis of your specific request.

I want to sell my product/service to Iran but do not have a potential Iranian business partner. Can the Helpdesk help?

Unfortunately, the Helpdesk cannot connect its users directly with Iranian partners.  However, the Helpdesk works closely with various institutions (diplomatic missions, chambers of commerce, trade promotion agencies etc.) which might assist your request. Please find the contact information under the ‘Partners’ tab of our website and feel free to reach out to these institutions during Helpdesk events.

I am an EU citizen and want to provide consulting services to an Iranian company. Do I have to conduct due diligence on the Iranian company?

All natural and legal persons, entities and bodies under EU jurisdiction, regardless of their location, are required to comply with EU sanctions. Therefore, EU natural and legal persons are strongly advised to conduct due diligence if they are to do business with Iran.

Does the Helpdesk provide any additional on-the-ground legal or business consulting services, or advice on banking matters on the Iranian market?

The Helpdesk works closely with various institutions (diplomatic missions, chambers of commerce, trade promotion agencies etc.) that might be able to help you with such questions. Please find contact information under the ‘Partners’ tab of our website and feel free to reach out to these institutions during Helpdesk events.

How does the Helpdesk ensure the security of my data?

The Helpdesk stores users’ data in a manner fully compliant with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Data collected from Helpdesk users and partners is stored securely on servers located within the EU, is used solely for the due diligence process and is not shared with third parties under any circumstances.

Whom should I contact if I encounter problems accessing certain parts of the website?

Please contact us at info@sanctions-helpdesk.eu and we will gladly assist you with any technical issues you might experience.

What are the current EU sanctions against Iranian persons or entities, and what broadly is their impact on EU-Iran commerce?

On Implementation Day (16 January 2016), the limited sanctions relief provided to Iran under the 2013-interim agreement (Joint Plan of Action – JPOA) was superseded by the lifting of all economic and financial sanctions taken in connection with the Iranian nuclear programme, in accordance with the nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – JCPOA). Therefore, with a few exceptions, all economic activity between the EU and Iran is permissible.

To check whether a planned economic activity with Iran is subject to EU sanctions, one can use the EU Sanctions Tool. Broadly, the measures still in force are related to proliferation (arms embargo, sanctions related to missile technology, restrictions on certain nuclear-related transfers and activities, provisions concerning certain metals and software), to serious human rights violations (financial restrictions and travel bans against listed persons, export ban on certain goods used for internal repression and monitoring of telecommunication) as well as listings under the Syria regime and the so-called CP931 list.

Is the Helpdesk limited strictly to SMEs? How are SMEs defined by the Helpdesk?

The Helpdesk is designed primarily to assist SMEs but assesses other enquiries on a case-by-case basis. Small and medium-sized enterprises are defined in EU Recommendation 2003/361 The main factors determining whether an enterprise is an SME are:

  1. Staff headcount
  2. Either turnover or balance sheet total
Company category Staff headcount Turnover or Balance sheet total
Medium-sized < 250 ≤ € 50 m ≤ € 43 m
Small < 50 ≤ € 10 m ≤ € 10 m
Micro < 10 ≤ € 2 m ≤ € 2 m

Can users treat the Helpdesk and Due Diligence Analysis Tool as a substitute for obtaining advice from a law firm or private compliance consultancy?

The Helpdesk is made available to all EU economic operators interested in engaging in business with Iran. It aims to provide a user-friendly mechanism to assess whether a proposed activity involving Iran is compliant with EU sanctions. The assessments of the Helpdesk are to be understood as providing first-line guidance.

Best efforts were used in developing and designing the Helpdesk, with attention to the accuracy of the information provided, for example in using the most up-to-date, publicly available information sources such as EU sanctions lists. However, no representation or warranty, express or implied, is given by or on behalf of the European Commission or by any of its affiliates or partners, or the Helpdesk operators, with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained within or on which the Helpdesk is based, or of any other information or representations supplied or made in connection with the Helpdesk, or as with respect to the reasonableness of any expectations therefrom. The Commission does not assume any liability in this regard.

EU economic operators that use the Helpdesk must make all trading and investment decisions on the basis of their own judgment, and, if in doubt, they should seek legal advice or consult the competent authority in their respective Member States.

Note that Member States’ national competent authorities (NCA) are in charge of enforcing EU sanctions and the ensuing penalties in case of a breach. EU economic operators are strongly encouraged to gather all the available information at the national level and to contact their NCA in case of doubt.

The Helpdesk is funded by the EU and its services are free of charge. Why is the EU investing so much in EU-Iran commerce?

The EU has allocated significant resources to enhance legitimate trade with Iran from the very beginning of sanctions lifting. For instance, the European Commission supported the Member States, which set up INSTEX, and has put in place several other initiatives, of which the Helpdesk is one. The Commission has also recently launched the Sanctions Tool, an online self-assessment tool designed to help EU companies determine whether EU sanctions apply to their business dealings with Iran.

The EU commitment also gives effect to its vision of sanctions, which are meant to be smart and targeted and which seek to avoid unintended consequences of all sorts. Supporting operators to engage in legitimate activities with Iranian counterparts, and to avoid those which could potentially breach sanctions, is a means to achieve this vision.

Will the Helpdesk advise on US nexus and the risk of extraterritorial sanctions by third countries?

The Helpdesk covers solely EU sanctions. It is not applicable to sanctions imposed by third countries against Iran. Moreover, it is important to highlight that the European Union does not recognize the extraterritorial application of laws adopted by third countries and considers such extraterritorial application to be contrary to international law. The EU’s Blocking Statute (Council Regulation (EC) No 2271/96) protects EU economic operators from the extraterritorial application of third-country legislation and counteracts its effects, prohibiting compliance by EU operators with any requirement or prohibition based on or resulting from the foreign laws specified in its annex.