US trade sanctions have led game maker Blizzard to cut off access to World of Warcraft (Wow) in Iran.
Blizzard posted a statement to its player-forum site after hundreds of Iranian players said they had lost access to the game.
Access was lost recently, it said, because it had “tightened up its procedures” to comply with sanctions.
This also meant, said Blizzard, that it could not give refunds to players or transfer their accounts.
The problem for Iranians came to light late last week as hundreds of players in the country posted messages to Blizzard’s European Battle.net forums complaining they could no longer access the game.
US trade sanctions have led game maker Blizzard to cut off access to World of Warcraft (Wow) in Iran
Many of those posting messages said they could not connect directly to World of Warcraft but could get access when they used a proxy server outside Iran.
The outpouring of complaints led Blizzard to post a statement explaining what had happened.
The statement said US economic sanctions and trade restrictions meant it could not do business with people living in certain nations. One of which was Iran.
“This week, Blizzard tightened up its procedures to ensure compliance with these laws, and players connecting from the affected nations are restricted from access to Blizzard games and services,” read the statement.
Unfortunately, said Blizzard, the same sanctions meant it could not give refunds to players in Iran or help them move their account elsewhere.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this causes and will happily lift these restrictions as soon as US law allows,” it added.
Although the block on Wow has been imposed by Blizzard, other reports suggest a wider government ban might have been imposed.
Players of Wow and other games, including Guild Wars, said when they had tried to log in they had been redirected to a page saying the connection had been blocked because the games promoted “superstition and mythology”.
Blizzard said it had no information about Iranian government action against online games.
British bank Standard Chartered has agreed a $340 million settlement with New York regulators that accused it of hiding $250 billion of transactions with Iran.
The hearing that had been scheduled for Wednesday has now been adjourned.
Standard Chartered’s chief executive Peter Sands has been in New York negotiating with the regulators.
It had admitted that some of its transactions did break US sanctions, but said that the amount totaled just $14 million.
“The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) and Standard Chartered Bank have reached an agreement to settle the matter raised in the DFS order dated August 6, 2012,” a statement from the regulator’s superintendent said.
“The parties have agreed that the conduct at issue involved transactions of at least $250 billion.”
Standard Chartered has agreed a $340 million settlement with New York regulators that accused it of hiding $250 billion of transactions with Iran
A short statement from Standard Chartered simply confirmed a settlement of $340 million had been reached.
“A formal agreement containing the detailed terms of the settlement is expected to be concluded shortly,” it added.
The bank also said it continued to “engage constructively” with other US authorities.
According to the terms of the settlement, Standard Chartered will pay a “civil penalty” of $340 million to the DFS.
It will also install a monitor for at least two years who will evaluate money-laundering controls at the bank’s New York branch and report directly to the regulator.
“In addition, DFS examiners shall be placed on site at the bank,” the statement said.
Finally, the settlement provided for permanent staff at the bank’s New York office to audit any money-laundering controls.
The $340 million was a “hefty penalty, but nothing like as hefty as it could have been” if the two parties had not negotiated a settlement. The DFS had, for example, talked of revoking Standard Chartered’s New York banking licence.
Last week, New York’s DFS alleged that the US unit of the bank had illegally hidden 60,000 transactions with Iran worth $250 billion over nearly a decade.
It accused the London-based bank of being a “rogue institution” for breaking US sanctions against Iran.
Peter Sands said at the time that he was “completely surprised” by the ferocity of the DFS’s attack, which he described as “disproportionate”.
He did, however, admit that 300 transactions did break US sanctions.
“This was clearly wrong and we are sorry that they happened,” Peter Sands said.
Standard Chartered bank illegally “schemed” with Iran to launder as much as $250 billion for nearly a decade, a US regulator says.
The New York State Department of Financial Services said that the bank hid 60,000 secret transactions for “Iranian financial institutions” that were subject to US economic sanctions.
Standard Chartered bank illegally "schemed" with Iran to launder as much as $250 billion for nearly a decade
Standard Chartered then covered up its transgressions, it said.
HSBC was recently accused by the US Senate of allowing money laundering.
HSBC has set aside $700 million to deal with those allegations.
Four people have been sentenced to death in Iran for their roles in the country’s biggest-ever bank fraud scandal.
Two other defendants received life sentences, while 33 more will spend up to 25 years in jail, the chief prosecutor was quoted as saying.
The scandal involved forged documents reportedly used by an investment company to secure loans worth $2.6 billion.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last year denied allegations that his government was involved.
The identities of the defendants have not been made public.
Four people have been sentenced to death in Iran for their roles in the country's biggest-ever bank fraud scandal
The case broke in September 2011 when an investment firm was accused of forging documents to obtain credit from at least seven Iranian banks over a four-year period.
The money was reportedly used to buy state-owned companies under the government’s privatization scheme.
As part of their probe, authorities froze the assets of an Iranian businessman thought to be the mastermind behind the scam.
The firm at the heart of the scandal had moved from a small start-up capital to being worth billions of dollars.
The affair fuelled weeks of political infighting between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran’s ruling hierarchy of clerics.
Economy Minister Shamseddin Hosseini scraped through an impeachment vote in November after conservative hardliners accused him of failing to take action over the fraud.