Apparently, the Obama administration secretly tried to give Iran access to the U.S. financial system. They attempted to side-step sanctions kept in place after the 2015 nuclear deal. This was in spite of repeatedly telling Congress and the public they had no plans to do so.
Senate GOP released an investigation on Wednesday shedding light on the balance the Obama administration sought to keep after the deal. They worked to keep Iran receiving the promised benefits without playing into the hands of opponents to the deal.
There have been Iran hawks in the U.S., Israel and elsewhere that have been arguing that the U.S. gave far too much to Tehran and the excess would be used to fund extremism.
The report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations disclosed that under President Barack Obama, the Treasury Department issued a license in February 2016. It would allow Iran to convert $5.7 billion it held at a bank in Oman from Omani rivals into euros by exchanging them first into U.S. dollars. If the Omani bank had allowed the exchange without such a license, it would have violated sanctions that bar Iran from transactions that touch the U.S. financial system.
The effort never succeeded because American banks declined to participate. The Obama administration approached two U.S. banks to facilitate the conversion, the report said, but both refused, citing the reputational risk of doing business with Iran.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said, “The Obama administration misled the American people and Congress because they were desperate to get a deal with Iran.”
The license issued to Bank Muscat was in sharp contrast to repeated public statements from the Obama White House, the Treasury, and the State Department. They all denied that the administration was contemplating allowing Iran access to the U.S. financial system.
Former Obama administration officials declined to comment. However, they said the decision to grant the license had been made in line with the spirit of the deal. It allowed Iran to regain access to foreign reserves that had been off-limits because of the sanctions.
According to the report, Iran is believed to have found other ways to access its money, possibly by exchanging it in smaller quantities through another currency.
Credit: Daily Mail