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Obama Administration Sought to Give Iran Access to Billions of U.S. Dollars

In order to free up money that Iran had in an Omani bank, the Obama administration sought to give Iran access to dollars — something it said it wouldn’t to — in February 2016, shortly after the terms of the nuclear deal were implemented, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Iran had $5.7 billion in an Omani bank that needed to be converted to dollars, so it could then be converted to euros. Because the United States had promised Iran access to money it had in offshore accounts, the Obama administration secretly issued a license allowing Iran brief access to the U.S. currency to make the conversions possible. However, the administration had also said that it never gave Iran access to the U.S. banking system.

The plan, which was revealed in a report by Senate Republicans released on Wednesday, failed when two American banks refused to participate.

Sen. Rob Portman (R – Ohio), who chaired the committee, that released the report, said, ““The Obama administration misled the American people and Congress because they were desperate to get a deal with Iran.”

Rep. Ed Royce (R – Calif.), the outgoing chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said that the previous administration tried to “hide a secret push to give the ayatollah access to the U.S. dollar.”

The license to allow  Oman’s Bank of Muscat to convert the funds in Omani rial to dollars and then to euros, was issued in February 2016. Had the bank attempted to do the conversions without a license, it would have violated sanctions that prohibit Iran from being involved in any transactions with the U.S. financial system.

The AP described the conversion of the fund into dollars as “the easiest and most efficient way to speed up Iran’s access” to the money in the Omani bank.

The administration approached two U.S. banks, both of whom refused to get involved in the transaction because they feared that being involved in financial transactions with Iran would harm their reputations.

The AP reported that while it was not illegal for the administration to issue the license, it nonetheless “went above and beyond what the Obama administration was required to do under the terms of the nuclear agreement.”

[Photo: ptmoney.com / Flickr]