Companies Abandon Business Ties With Iran Post-JCPOA Withdrawal

Businesses Cite Legal, Political, Financial & Reputational Risks

In the weeks since President Trump announced the United States would officially leave the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), numerous companies have proactively exited from their business dealings with Iran.  Total, Maersk, and Siemens have all announced they will be departing Tehran without an exemption from U.S. secondary sanctions being re-imposed over the next 90 to 180 days.  And rightly so.  As long as Iran continues to export extremism, there remain serious legal, political, financial and reputational risks associated with doing business with the regime.  With the U.S. pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, more and more companies are beginning to see these dangers and assess whether they should walk away from the globe’s leading state sponsor of terror.  In response to Iran’s long history of reckless actions and blatant support for terrorism, UANI has led a global campaign to cut American and European businesses’ ties with the regime. 

To understand the risks in the Iranian market, click here to see UANI's Iran Risk Snapshot.

To read more about this development and UANI’s campaign, please see the background below.


Recently, UANI Has Successfully Shaped The Way The Private Sector Views The Islamic Republic:

  • California’s Brocade and Symantec, AUMA of Pennsylvania, Brooks Instruments of Illinois and Minnesota-based McQuay were five domestic companies UANI recently contacted regarding their apparent presence on Iranian websites, Hirbodan and Negar Networks. Once alerted that their intellectual property (IP) and likeness were being illicitly used, each company disavowed any business ties to Iran, reiterated their strict adherence to Iranian sanctions, and stated that they have demanded the Iranian entities remove their respective company logos and IP from any public-facing dissemination. Britain’s Lloyds Bank made a similar confirmation in March that its logo was being used “spuriously.”
  • Mario Grifone, president of the major Italian electrochemical company AMEL S.r.l., who approached UANI for its counsel on doing business in Iran.  UANI highlighted Iran’s dismal reputation for business transparency and the recently sanctioned Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) extensive reach over the country’s economy.  Armed with such knowledge, AMEL chose not to engage with the regime.
  • French radiocommunications provider ATDI S.A., and three engineering and manufacturing companies, Germany’s EFCO Maschinenbau GmbH, Italy’s Matec, and Schlatter Industries AG of Switzerland, four European companies that received similar information from UANI and were successfully persuaded either to cancel their participation in Iran trade shows or stop doing business with the regime altogether. 

Despite UANI’s Direct And Urgent Messages To Cut Off Business Ties With Tehran, Some American Companies Are Ignoring These Warnings:

  • Ernst and Young. When asked about its potential ties with Iran, EY told UANI it should also write to organizations such as the UN (which it has), claiming in all seriousness that its interests aligned with such organizations in promoting “prosperity and peace.” Of course, EY is a for-profit, multinational corporation, interested in doing business with Iran for one reason: money. It is highly likely the company could interact with terrorist entities such as the IRGC, get swept up in terror financing and money laundering, and be exposed to a multitude of other serious risks to its reputation.  EY seems to believe the benefits of doing business with Iran will outweigh these risks.
  • Honeywell. In early 2017, the New Jersey energy giant told UANI that it was compliant with all U.S. laws “with regards to our activities in Iran.”  UANI wrote again after the White House’s decision to decertify the JCPOA in November and designate the IRGC in its entirety, which would seem to alter the calculus for U.S. companies in particular.  Honeywell has not replied, and continues to ramp up Iran business and address Europe-based Iran business conferences, like the upcoming Iran Petrochemical Summit in Paris.
  • Cleveland-based McGean, which specializes in aviation maintenance and chemicals.  UANI found that the company was an apparent sponsor for the First International Civil Aviation Exhibition (“Aeropersia”) that took place in Tehran last September. Given Iran’s propensity for intellectual property theft and fabrication of the participation of companies at conferences, all in a brazen attempt to enhance the country’s corporate legitimacy, UANI sent multiple letters to McGean to determine the veracity of Aeropersia’s claim and warn it of the perils of doing business with Iran.  To this day, UANI has not received a response from McGean either confirming or denying this matter.
  • Several other companies in the EU, including Rapid, DWT, Nokia, ASSFALG, Tatra Trucks, EasyHotel, Ignazio Messina, Fincanctieri and Maersk are also involved.  The companies are dismissive of the evidence of Tehran’s gross misdeeds. They have also made broad claims to justify their continued business with the country.  For example, when UANI highlighted the risks of doing business with the regime in Tehran, Sweden-based Rapid called it “nonsense.”


Insurance & Compliance Companies & Analysts Warn Of Risks Of Doing Business With Iran:

  • A Number Of Insurance Brokers, Including Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. And Swiss Re, Are “‘Assessing The Impact’ Of The U.S. Decision On Its Business.” (Suzanne Barlyn & Carolyn Cohn, “Global Insurers Review Business After U.S. Exit From Iran Deal,” Reuters, 5/18/18)
  • Compliance Companies Are Also Assessing The Situation. “Because U.S. ‘primary sanctions’ remain in force, restricting persons and entities under U.S. jurisdiction from generally doing business with Iran, sanctions compliance implications resulting from U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA most significantly apply to non-U.S. subsidiaries of U.S. parent companies.” (Jaclyn Jaeger, “Compliance Considerations Of Iran Sanctions,” Compliance Week, 5/18/18)
  • Jefferies LLC Analyst Jason Gammel: “The Risks Of Being On The Wrong Side Of The U.S. Government Are Not Worth The Benefits Of Trading With Iran Once The Sanctions Are In Place.” (Francois De Beaupuy, “Total Stops Iran Gas Project As Risk From Sanctions Too High,” Bloomberg, 5/16/18)

As A Result Of The U.S. Withdrawing From The Iran Deal, Numerous Companies Have Begun Pulling Out Of Iran:

  • France’s Total SA Is Suspending Its Iran Operations Because Continuing To Do So “Would Be Too Great A Risk.” “Continuing to do business in Iran would be too great a risk as the company has large operations in the U.S. and depends on the country’s banks for financing its operations, Total said in a statement Wednesday.  So the French energy giant won’t commit any more funds to Iran’s South Pars 11 project, in which it took a controlling stake last year.” (Francois De Beaupuy, “Total Stops Iran Gas Project As Risk From Sanctions Too High,” Bloomberg, 5/16/18)
  • Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser: We Can’t Do New Deals With Iran. “One of Europe’s top chief executives has underscored just how tough it will be for the region’s political leaders to salvage the Iran nuclear deal.  Speaking to CNN on Sunday, Siemens (SIEGY) CEO Joe Kaeser said his company could not do any new business in Iran after President Donald Trump decided to ditch the deal and reimpose US sanctions.  Kaeser said that, based on his understanding, global companies are no longer allowed to accept new orders from Iran or else they could face targeted retaliation from the United States.  Existing contracts would be fulfilled.  He said that Trump’s decision to reimpose Iran sanctions means his company has to fall in line.  ‘There’s a primacy of a political system.  If that primacy says “this is what we’re going to do”, then that is exactly what we’re going to do,’ he told CNNMoney's Emerging Markets Editor John Defterios in an interview.” (Alanna Petroff, “Siemens CEO: We Can’t Do New Deals With Iran,” CNN Money, 5/14/18)
  • Germany’s DZ Bank Announced It Will Begin Suspending Financial Transactions With Iran In July. “Germany’s No. 2 lender DZ Bank said on Friday it will suspend financial transactions with Iran in July following U.S. President Donald Trump’s pullout from the nuclear deal with Tehran.” (“Germany’s DZ Bank To Halt Iran Transactions In July,” Reuters, 5/18/18)
  • AP Moller-Maersk Announced Its Intent To Abandon Business Dealings With Iran. “Shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk has said it will stop working in Iran as the international fallout over the collapse of the country’s nuclear deal grows.” (Alan Tovey, “Shipping Giant Maersk To Abandon Iran As Threat Of Sanctions Grows,” The Telegraph, 5/17/18)
    • CEO Soren Skou: “With The Sanctions The Americans Are To Impose, You Can’t Do Business In Iran If You Also Have Business In The US, And We Have That On A Large Scale … I Don’t Know The Exact Timing Details But I’m Certain We’re Also Going To Shut Down In Iran.” (Alan Tovey, “Shipping Giant Maersk To Abandon Iran As Threat Of Sanctions Grows,” The Telegraph, 5/17/18)
  • Poland’s PGNiG Is Suspending A Gas Project In Iran. “Poland’s dominant gas firm PGNiG plans to suspend a gas project in Iran because of the risk from U.S. sanctions, the company’s deputy chief executive said.” (“Poland’s PGNiG Plans To Suspend Gas Project In Iran Because Of U.S. Sanctions,” Reuters, 5/18/18)
  • France’s Gas & Power Group Engie Is Ending Its Engineering Contracts In Iran Before The End Of 2018. “US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the nuclear accord with Iran and his order that sanctions be reimposed on Tehran have led several European companies to announce their exit from the country, including French oil major Total earlier this week.  Engie CEO Isabelle Kocher said at a shareholders’ meeting that the utility has no infrastructures in Iran but has engineering teams working there for clients.  ‘We have 180 days to end these contracts, which takes us to November.  It will be done,’ she said.” (“French Gas Group Says To End Engineering Contracts In Iran By November,” Reuters, 5/18/18)