Trump seizes upon Obama-era license aimed at helping Iran

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The administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama to bypass the sanctions secretly tried to provide Iran access to the U.S. financial system, reports AP.

"Officials repeatedly testified to Congress that Iranian access to the US financial system was not on the table or part of any deal", says the majority report of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. 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 USA financial system.

According to the subcommittee, Iran had $5.7 billion in assets in the Omani bank, and wanted to convert it via the USA financial system as it was the most efficient means, "even though US sanctions prohibited it", according to the report.

"The Obama administration misled the American people and Congress because they were desperate to get a deal with Iran", Sen.

Portman's committee undertook the two-year investigation to probe rumors about the side deal.

Portman noted in the release the only reason the transaction was not executed was that two USA banks refused, even though the Obama administration asked them to help convert the money.

US officers went additional, asking then Secretary of State John Kerry or Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to succeed in out to banks and encourage them to finish the transaction.

"Sanctions are a vital foreign policy tool, and the USA government should never work to actively undermine their enforcement or effectiveness", said a statement from Portman. It was created to allow Iran to briefly convert into dollars from Omani rials about $5.7 billion worth of Iranian assets frozen in an Omani bank. That official wrote to his Iranian counterpart that the specific license "exceeded" the US commitments under the JCPOA. President Trump has taken a hard-line stance regarding relations with Iran since he first announced his candidacy for the office of President in the 2016 election. There was the ransom deal that gave Iran $1.7 billion in cash.

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However when Szubin, the Beneath Secretary of the Treasury, was requested in Might 2016, he stated he was clarifying for Lew, "I do know he was trying ahead to me being right here to have the ability to relay his views on this".

After Treasury officials were examining whether the Iran deal's relevant sanctions permit currency exchange of rials to dollars, the report says a Treasury official wrote in an email, "Yikes". Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., Treasury officials declared "The U.S. Department of Treasury is not working on behalf of Iran to enable Iranian access to U.S. dollars elsewhere in the worldwide financial system, nor are we assisting Iran in gaining access to dollar payment systems outside the U.S. financial system".

Speaking factors ready for Lew earlier than congressional testimony stated he ought to disclose the precise license "if pressed". "And it did not allow Iran access to United States investments or markets". The U.S. dollar is the world's dominant currency, so allowing it to be used as a conversion instrument for Iranian assets was the easiest and most efficient way to speed up Iran's access to its own funds. And at least one European regulator who attended an OFAC roadshow commented that foreign financial institutions felt "political pressure" to conduct business with Iran and Iranian companies. Despite issuing the specific license to allow Iran to access the USA financial system, Bank Muscat was unable to effectuate the conversion using the US dollar.

- Informed future negotiations with Iran.

- Transparency on other sanctions relief granted to Iran and whether this relief also exceeded the scope of the JCPOA or contradicted public statements by Obama administration officials.

The Examiner reported that in 2015, Obama's Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testified "in the Senate that Iran would 'continue to be denied access to the [U.S.] financial and commercial market'".

In one secret meeting, US officials "signaled that it would not aggressively enforce violations of the new sanctions regime", investigators found.