A report released by Republican senators on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation said the Obama administration didn't tell Congress that it sought access for Iran and, in its eagerness to clinch the nuclear deal, was trying to dodge sanctions that remained in place following the 2016 agreement. A bank in Oman ended up using an alternative method to convert roughly $5.7 billion of Iran's assets into euros.
A report from the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations chaired by Portman said the transactions authorized by the Obama administration never took place because two USA banks refused to execute them.
"Now a Senate investigation has revealed the Obama administration was even working in secret to circumvent the weaker sanctions left over from the nuclear deal - and they were lying to Congress about it". He continued that the Treasury Department authorized the transaction "as a gesture of support" to Iran. In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, Under Secretary Adam Szubin doubled down on this false assurance: "Iranian banks will not be able to clear USA dollars through NY, hold correspondent account relationships with US financial institutions, or enter into financing arrangements with USA banks".
"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. Following the issuance of the specific license, OFAC contacted two US banks to convert Iran's rials to USA dollars. It did not allow Iran to send funds to the United States or receive funds from the US. Senior U.S. government officials repeatedly testified to Congress that Iranian access to the U.S. financial system was not on the table or part of any deal. But as part of the nuclear deal, Iran was promised access to overseas reserves of its own funds that had been frozen by sanctions.
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Not so, former Obama administration officials said, arguing the decision to grant the license adhered to the spirt of the deal, which included allowing Iran to regain access to foreign reserves that had been off-limits because of US sanctions.
- The State Department official negotiating implementation of the JCPOA understood giving Iran access to the US financial system was prohibited by USA sanctions and outside the relief under the JCPOA or JPOA.
- Materials prepared for Treasury Secretary Lew to testify before Congress about the JCPOA suggested he disclose the specific license to Bank Muscat "if pressed". 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.
That same week, the AP reported that the Treasury had prepared a draft of a license that would have given Iran much broader permission to convert its assets from foreign currencies into easier-to-spend currencies like euros, yen or rupees, by first exchanging them for dollars at offshore financial institutions. The administration should brief congressional committees of jurisdiction and oversight committees periodically and on request of the status of any future negotiations.
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And Republican Rep. Ed Royce, the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, accused Obama of trying to "hide a secret push to give the ayatollah access to the US dollar".
In September 2015, Adam Szubin, Obama's Beneath Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Monetary Intelligence, stated in a speech, "Iran won't be able to open financial institution accounts with USA banks, nor will Iran be capable of entry the USA banking sector, even for that momentary transaction to, what we name, dollarize a global cost" - the very transfer Treasury granted Iran.
In one secret meeting, USA officials "signaled that it would not aggressively enforce violations of the new sanctions regime", investigators found.
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