Obama Admin ‘Laundered’ U.S. Cash to Iran Via N.Y. Fed, Euro Banks

Congressman: ‘Administration laundered this money in order to circumvent U.S. law’

John Kerry, Javad Zarif / AP

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A member of the House Intelligence Committee is accusing the Obama administration of laundering some $1.7 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars to Iran through a complicated network that included the New York Federal Reserve and several European banks, according to conversations with sources and new information obtained by the lawmaker and viewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

New disclosures made by the Treasury Department to Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), a House Intelligence Committee member, show that an initial $400 million cash payment to Iran was wired to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) and then converted from U.S. dollars into Swiss francs and moved to an account at the Swiss National Bank, according to a copy of communication obtained exclusively by the Free Beacon.

Once the money was transferred to the Swiss Bank, the "FRBNY withdrew the funds from its account as Swiss franc banknotes and the U.S. Government physically transported them to Geneva" before personally overseeing the handover to an agent of Iran’s central bank, according to the documents.

These disclosures shine new light on how the Obama administration moved millions of dollars from U.S. accounts to European banks in order to facilitate three separate cash payments to Iran totaling $1.7 billion.

The latest information is adding fuel to accusations the Obama administration arranged the payment in this fashion to skirt U.S. sanctions laws and give Iran the money for the release of U.S. hostages, in what many have called a ransom.

Congress has been investigating the circumstances surrounding the payment for months and said the administration is blocking certain requests for more detailed information about the cash transaction with Iran.

"By withholding critical details and stonewalling congressional inquiries, President Obama seems to be hiding whether or not he and others broke U.S. law by sending $1.7 billion in cash to Iran," Pompeo told the Free Beacon. "But Americans can plainly see that the Obama administration laundered this money in order to circumvent U.S. law and appease the Islamic Republic of Iran."

As new details emerge, congressional critics such as Pompeo and Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) are beginning to suspect the U.S. government laundered the money in order to provide Tehran with immediate access.

"Think about this timeline: the U.S. withdraws $400 million in cash from the Swiss National Bank and then physically transports it to another city to hand-off to Iranian officials—three days before Iran releases four American hostages," Pompeo said. "But it gets worse: less than a week after this, the U.S. again sends hordes of cash to Iran.  As we speak, Iran is still holding three more Americans hostage and I fear what precedent this administration has set."

The initial $400 million payment to Iran was initiated on Jan. 14, 2016, according to information sent by the Treasury Department to Pompeo.

"For the first settlement payment in January, Treasury assisted the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) in crafting a wire instruction to transfer the $400 million in principal from the Iran FMS [Foreign Military Sales program] account on January 14, 2016," the document states.

"Treasury worked with DFAS and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY), which was acting as Treasury’s financial agent, so that the funds were converted from dollars to Swiss francs and credited to a FRBNY account at the Swiss National Bank (SNB), which is the central bank of the Switzerland [sic]," it adds.

The U.S. hostages were released shortly after Iran received this initial cash payment.

The additional $1.3 billion cash payment was facilitated by the Dutch Central Bank, which helped the United States transfer the money to an account before it was converted into euros.

The Dutch Bank "then disbursed the funds as euro banknotes in the Netherlands to an official from the Central Bank of Iran."

The payment was broken down into two separate transactions that occurred on Jan. 22 and Feb. 5.

Senior administration officials maintain that the transaction was completely legal and not paid out as part of a ransom to Iran. These officials have said that cash was the "most reliable" method to ensure Iran received immediate access to the funds, as its banking system is still under sanctions.

Officials from the Treasury and Justice Departments would not respond to Free Beacon requests for comment about the exact type of legal approval given prior to the cash payment.

One congressional adviser who works closely on the Iran issue told the Free Beacon that the Obama administration appears to have involved multiple branches of the government in order to help conceal the cash payment to Iran.

"It looks as if the White House made just about every corner of the executive branch complicit in covering up the extent of its payments to Iran," the source said. "Congress was already aggressively looking into payments involving the State, Treasury, and Energy Departments. Now it’s the Justice Department, too. We already know that top officials from Justice objected strongly to the ransom deal, but were overruled. Congress wants to know what happened and why."

A senior congressional aide familiar with investigations regarding the matter told the Free Beacon that the administration continues to hide information from lawmakers about the cash payment.

"The American public and Members of Congress understand psychology—if the administration is hiding something, there is a reason.  President Obama, Secretary Kerry and others would like to pretend that their months of evasiveness and stonewalling regarding Iran are normal, but their behavior indicates otherwise" the source said. "Refusing to answer basic questions about millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars paid to the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism only invites more questions."

Recent reports have raised questions about how much of this money may be spent to fund Iran’s international terror operations and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Lawmakers examining who in Iran assumed control of the money have told the Free Beacon that at least part of the cash was likely spent to fund the IRGC’s operations.

Adam Kredo   Email Adam | Full Bio | RSS
Adam Kredo is senior writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Formerly an award-winning political reporter for the Washington Jewish Week, where he frequently broke national news, Kredo’s work has been featured in outlets such as the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and Politico, among others. He lives in Maryland with his comic books. His Twitter handle is @Kredo0. His email address is kredo@freebeacon.com.

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