In the Plouffe

Obama adviser David Plouffe invested in Iran-tied Standard Chartered Bank, disclosures show

David Plouffe / AP
August 16, 2012

Top Obama adviser David Plouffe, who managed the president’s 2008 campaign, earned up to $20,000 investing in Standard Chartered Bank in 2011 and 2012, according to his financial disclosures.

The British bank ignored sanctions against the terrorist state and collected expensive fees on 60,000 financial transactions worth $250 billion for Iranian clients. New York regulators pounced on the bank in August for breaking the trade embargo Western nations imposed on Iran for pursuing nuclear weapons technology.

The bank settled the matter with state authorities quickly, handing more than $340 million to the government—the largest money laundering fine in history—just eight days after the Department of Financial Services filed charges.

Federal authorities launched an investigation into the bank in 2010 and began negotiating penalties with the company in 2011. It is unclear how much Plouffe knew about the investigation when he sold a substantial portion of his holdings in the bank—valued at up to $15,000—in January 2011.

The White House did not return an e-mail for comment.

The bank is not Plouffe’s only financial connection to the rogue nation. The senior White House adviser pocketed $200,000 for giving two speeches to MTN, a South African telecommunications firm that has ties to Iran’s radical regime. The firm won a lucrative contract with the Iranian military after allegedly bribing officials and pledging to provide it with weapons and favorable United Nations votes.

Critics of Obama, including conservative advocacy group Secure America Now, have ramped up criticisms of Plouffe’s speaking gig. The organization is running an advertisement on the Internet calling for Plouffe’s resignation.

"[Plouffe] got rich off of the only real asset he has: his influence in and access to the Obama White House," the ad says in reference to the speeches. "If this is who Obama trusts, can you trust Obama?"

Standard Chartered Bank’s woes are far from settled.

The New York settlement does not absolve it from federal penalties. The Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, Department of Justice, and Manhattan District Attorney’s Office continue to negotiate fines with the bank.

Relatives of the 241 Marines killed in the 1983 Beirut bombing are also suing Standard Chartered Bank to recover portions of the $2.6 billion judgment issued against Iran for its role in the terrorist attack. Iran never contested the charges and has yet to pay a dime to the victims and their families.