Less than one month after the United States pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan, more commonly known as the Iran nuclear agreement, a draft report from the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations states that the former Obama administration secretly gave Iran access to the U.S. financial system.
According to the investigative report, Obama administration officials worked with the Treasury Department to draft a license with the Iranian government that granted Iran access to the U.S. financial system in order for billions of dollars in Iranian assets to be converted into American currency.
The report states that this deal was made in spite of promises from Obama officials to Congress that this would not be permitted under the Iran agreement.
“On Feb. 24, 2016, the Treasury Department issued a specific license to Bank Muscat to authorize the conversion of Iran’s rials to euros through ‘any United States depository institution …,”” the draft report said. “Even after the specific license was issued, U.S. government officials maintained in congressional testimony that Iran would not be granted access to the U.S. financial system.”
Subcommittee chairman and Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman said he believes the Obama administration intentionally misled the American public.
“The Obama administration during the negotiation of the Iran deal misled the American people,” Portman said. “I think they did so because they were desperate to get a deal.”
The report further states that when access to the U.S. financial system was granted, Iran had $5.7 billion in assets at the Bank Muscat in Muscat, Oman, in the form of Omani rials.
Iran wanted to use these assets and decided that converting them through the U.S. financial system “was the most efficient means, even though U.S. sanctions prohibited it,” the report states.
“Government officials tried to convince two U.S. banks to execute the conversion. They both declined, citing the complexity and the unwanted appearance involved in processing an Iranian transaction,” Fox News reported.
Without an American bank willing to comply, a State Department official said he thinks Iran eventually used European banks to convert the funds.
A former Obama administration official has disputed the investigation’s conclusions, claiming the Treasury Department never granted Iran access to U.S. investments or markets, conducted commercial transactions in U.S. dollars or opened correspondent accounts at U.S. banks.
“This specific license cannot be described as ‘granting access to the U.S. financial system,’” the former official said.
“This specific license was in fulfillment of JCPOA commitments to give Iran access to pools of its money held overseas. It was aimed solely to allow the movement of Iran’s own funds stranded at an Omani bank into euros at a European bank, where Iran could then make use of them.”
Last month, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. was pulling out of what he described as a “disastrous deal.”
“This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made,” he said. “It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.”
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