Mahathir Mohamad said on Wednesday that the ties with Tehran are very good, but Malaysia faces strong pressures from certain quarters.
“We are forced to do this because if we don’t, they will close our banks abroad. It’s a kind of bullying by very powerful people,” he added.
Banks in Malaysia are closing the accounts of Iranian individuals and companies showing that the
US sanctions are having far-reaching effects on citizens of the Islamic Republic.
It is estimated that the accounts of some 10,000 Iranians living in Malaysia are closed.
Washington reinstated sanctions over Iran’s nuclear programme late last year, but Malaysia has maintained good diplomatic ties with Tehran.
Many Iranians said they know dozens of their fellow countrymen had received notices from CIMB and RHB Bank in the Southeast Asian country.
The banks did not state a reason, but some said bank officials attributed the move to tighter scrutiny after the sanctions.
Iran’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur says it is working to solve the problem. For the moment, Iranians in the Malaysian capital do not know how to pay school fees or hospital bills.