Lifting Iranian sanctions

Held on Tuesday, September 22

With support from M Taher & Co and OMFIF.


  • Lord Lamont of Lerwick

  • Maryam Taher (M Taher & Co)

  • Rae Lindsay (Clifford Chance)

  • Mohammad Meskarian (Persia International Bank)

  • Homan Harandian (Griffon Capital)

  • Clemente Cappello (Sturgeon Capital)


Let’s assume that the P5+1 deal that US Secretary of State Kerry and his mates negotiated as the price for Iran abandoning/postponing the nuclear ambitions it insists it never had goes ahead. Let’s assume, also, that the ‘snapback’ provisions of the agreement (which, apparently, permit any one of the parties to cancel the deal if it believes Iran is in breach) aren’t called into play…

Under those circumstances, we can anticipate that Iran will gradually reclaim its place as both a regional economic power and as a major player in regional and global finance. Of course (as has been pointed out to me several times), even when the nuclear-related sanctions are lifted, Iran will still be subject to other human rights-related sanctions, but I am assuming that these are small beer – a view which appears to be shared by all the European companies (with the notable exception of a clearly nervous BP) that are lining up for visas.

But what do I know? Better ask those who really do understand what the possibilities (and potential pitfalls) really are. I am, therefore, delighted that (with help from OMFIF and support from M Taher & Co) we have been able to put together a distinguished panel to discuss what the lifting of sanctions might really mean:

  • Lord Lamont – whose decision, as Chancellor, to exit ERM gave the UK economy a boost that not even subsequent governments have been able to squander – is chairman of the British Iranian Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the advisory board of the Iran Heritage Foundation, and has, in the past, been a director of two companies trading with Iran.
  • Maryam Taher has over 20 years in the shipping industry and set up her own highly successful legal practice in 2004. She is well known for having obtained judgements in the European General Court to annul the applicability of European sanctions insofar as they have applied to her clients.
  • Mohammad Meskarianis the CEO of Persia International Bank, which was founded in 2002 following the merger of the London branches of Bank Mellat and Bank Tejarat.
  • Rae Lindsay is a partner at Clifford Chance specialising in economic sanctions (among other areas). She will be walking us through the dense legal thicket of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
  • Homan Horandian is a founding partner and CEO of Griffon Capital, an asset management and corporate finance advisory firm which seeks, in its own words, to act as a “conduit for foreign investment into Iran”. The firm has already established two funds of $100m each.
  • Clemente Cappello is the founder and CEO of Sturgeon Capital, which oversees US$80 million in frontier and emerging markets, primarily in Central Asia. He is currently seeking to raise a fund to invest directly in Iran – initially, in larger companies on the Tehran SE.

With emerging markets in some disarray, one can argue that Iran may have a tough time attracting investors. But the opportunities are enormous, the workforce is well-educated and sophisticated, and the business environment is (or used to be) more First World than Third. So the potential is there.