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Obama Admin Stonewalled Lawmakers On Billions in Cash and Gold to Iran

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US president, Barack Obama
US president, Barack Obama
By JENNA LIFHITS
 
Weekly Standard, Jan. 7, 2017 – The Obama administration misled top lawmakers about the transfer of billions of dollars in assets to Iran, according to sources in and out of Congress who spoke to THE WEEKLY STANDARD, and a range of questions remain about the mechanics of the payments.
The United States gave certain banks permission to transfer roughly $700 million monthly in unfrozen funds to Iran as part of the negotiations that produced the nuclear deal. Iran eventually received more than $10 billion in cash and gold through such transfers—highly liquid forms of payment that critics have said could be used to finance Iranian terrorist entities.
A congressional GOP aide told TWS that the administration misled lawmakers about such details of the transfers.
"We discussed the $700 million monthly payments [made] during the interim agreement. The State Department official never mentioned cash or gold," the aide told TWS. "This was deceptive. ... They had every opportunity to say these payments were being made in cash and gold, and they did not do so."
The administration has not provided a full account of the transfers, according to the aide.
"We've seen a list of waivers that authorized the $700 million monthly payments. Those waivers do not include details on mechanics—or individual licenses," the aide said, referring to Treasury Department documents that authorize previously prohibited activity. "With such large payments, it is very possible that individual licenses were issued."
"We don't get them—though we've certainly pushed for them," said the aide.
An Iran sanctions expert told TWS the administration's reluctance to release details of the payments, including to Congress, may be linked to assurances given to banks that weakened U.S. prohibitions against financing Iranian terrorist entities.
"Banks would have been reluctant to provide Iran with money because of course the Iranians were going to use that money for terrorism, and in a normal world the Treasury Department would bring the hammer down for all-but-knowingly sending money to terrorists," said the expert, who asked for anonymity because of ongoing work on the issue in Congress. "So to make the transfers happen, [the administration] would have had to signal they'd look the other way when the money inevitably went to the Quds Force, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so on."