Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Obama admin lied about Iran market access

Obama administration tried secret bank workaround for Iran, new report says REPORT: Obama Admin Gave IRAN Full Access to US Financial System
Ellis Copeland | 09 June, 2018, 20:31

This notwithstanding, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, at the direction of the U.S. State Department, granted a specific license that authorized a conversion of Iranian assets worth billions of U.S. dollars using the U.S. financial system.

The Obama administration asked two USA banks to facilitate the conversion of the Iranian assets, but its effort was ultimately unsuccessful as the banks refused to take such action citing reputational damage in dealing with Iran and potential wrongdoing of violating existing U.S. sanctions.

The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that the Obama administration secretly issued a license allowing Iran access to convert funds through an American bank.

To access the rials, Iran wanted to convert them briefly into dollars and then Euros. In July 2015, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that, under the JCPOA, Iran "will continue to be denied access to the [U.S.] financial and commercial market". Iran's nuclear program would be unconstrained.

Portman, who opposed the agreement, described Trump's action as an opportunity to "go back and work with our European allies" who would also like to tighten up aspects of the deal with Iran.

The report outlines key transparency recommendations to ensure such secret side deals do not occur, including requiring the current Trump administration to keep Congress informed on the status of any future negotiations with Iran and disclosing to Congress any specific licenses that are proposed.

The report made it clear that Iran was not able to leverage direct action via American banks, two specific U.S. banks having refused the Obama administration's pressure to conduct the conversion of Iranian funds holed up in an Omani bank into United States dollars, then Euros, standing on the dangers of being caught violating the law. Now it has become clear that even the terms that were ultimately agreed to were not honored by the Obama Administration.

Iran eventually found other ways to convert its money to Euros so it could access it.

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"This specific license can not be described as 'granting access to the USA financial system, '" the former official said. They warned that unless Tehran was willing to give up more, the USA shouldn't give Iran anything more than it already had.

Investigators stated the episode ought to illustrate the significance of the US monetary system and the way a lot leverage that offers the USA over Iran now that the Trump administration has violated the nuclear deal and withdrawn the USA from it.

To spend it, Iran wanted to convert the money into USA dollars and then euros, but top US officials had repeatedly promised Congress that Iran would never gain access to America's financial system.

Former Obama administration officials declined to comment for the record.

The report focuses on $5.7 billion from Iranian oil sales that were frozen in Oman's Bank Muscat in that country's currency, the rial.

USA sanctions block Iran from exchanging the money on its own.

"To be clear, the U.S. Department of Treasury is not working on behalf of Iran to enable Iranian access to U.S. dollars elsewhere in the global financial system, nor are we assisting Iran in gaining access to dollar payment systems outside the U.S. financial system". It did not allow Iran to conduct commercial transactions in foreign currencies via the USA banking system. And Asian and European banks are wary because USA regulators have levied billions of dollars in fines in recent years and threatened transgressors with a cutoff from the far more lucrative American market.

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