FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2012
Contact: Nathan Carleton, [email protected]
Phone: (212) 554-3296
UANI Calls on Senator Johnson & U.S. Lawmakers to Restore Language to Iran Sanctions Legislation that Would Sanction SWIFT
New York, NY - On Wednesday, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) called on Senator Tim Johnson and U.S. lawmakers to reinsert language to the Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Human Rights Act of 2012 (S.2101) that would ensure the prohibition of SWIFT services to financial institutions that help Iran evade sanctions.
S.2101, as passed by the Senate Banking Committee in February 2012, included language proposed by Senators Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez that would authorize the imposition of sanctions on SWIFT's leadership and shareholders, as long as SWIFT continued to provide access to Iranian financial institutions.
Unfortunately, it appears that vital provisions of the Kirk-Menendez Amendment contained in S.2101 of February 2012 have been removed under pressure from lobbyists for the international financial banking institutions.
UANI is calling on Senator Johnson and other U.S. lawmakers to reinsert the Kirk-Menendez language into S.2101, and help impose a banking blockade against Iran.
In a July 25, 2012 letter to Senator Johnson, UANI CEO, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, wrote:
United Against Nuclear Iran ("UANI") is concerned by reports that changes to key provisions of the Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Human Rights Act of 2012 (S.2101) have been removed to satisfy Washington's banking lobby.
Specifically, important provisions of this legislation that authorizes sanctions against financial communications firms that service Iranian financial institutions, including the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications ("SWIFT"), have reportedly been drastically amended or eliminated entirely. UANI is concerned that the legislation, as amended, fails to hold the directors and significant shareholders of SWIFT accountable for the irresponsible and dangerous actions of SWIFT, and also fails to ensure a sufficiently broad prohibition of SWIFT services to financial institutions that help Iran evade sanctions by facilitating access to SWIFT services.
... S.2101, as passed by the Senate Banking Committee in February 2012, included language proposed by Senators Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez (the "Kirk-Menendez Amendment") that authorized sanctions against any "financial communications services provider and the directors of, and shareholders with a significant interest in, the provider," that had not terminated the provision of financial communications services to and the enabling and facilitation of access to such services for, the Central Bank of Iran and any sanctioned Iranian financial institution.
UANI supported that provision for a number of reasons. First, SWIFT is organized as a "cooperative society" with a Board of Directors comprised of representatives from leading global financial institutions including, inter alia, the ING Group, Deutsche Bank AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. The SWIFT Board of Directors is vested with a number of oversight and governance responsibilities including legal and regulatory oversight, audit oversight and responsibility and liability/code of conduct. The SWIFT Board and its shareholders must be held accountable if they continue to service Iranian financial institutions or otherwise engage in activities that run counter to international sanctions law.
Simply put, as a Belgian "cooperative society," SWIFT is effectively a phantom institution that solely acts at the direction of its directors and shareholders - primarily including executives from the world's leading banks. Under this legislation, if it is to be effective, such directors and shareholders must be held accountable. ...
Unfortunately, it appears that vital provisions of the Kirk-Menendez Amendment contained in S.2101 of February 2012 have been removed under pressure from lobbyists for the international financial banking institutions. The banking lobby has sought to avoid any impact of this legislation on shareholders and directors - the banking executives - associated with SWIFT. UANI is concerned that the banking lobby has gutted these important provisions. UANI calls on all elected members to refuse to kowtow to the pecuniary interest of banks and their lobbyists in this Iran sanctions legislation, given the critical threat the Iranian regime poses to international security.
The Kirk-Menendez Amendment is a necessary and appropriate response to the Iranian regime's continued defiance of international law, support of terrorism and gross human rights violations. Now is not the time for Congress to place the interests of banks and corporations ahead of American security.
UANI therefore calls for the restoration of the original provisions of S.2101, specifically the Kirk-Menendez Amendment, to authorize the imposition of sanctions on SWIFT's leadership and shareholders, and to ensure the prohibition of SWIFT services to financial institutions that help Iran evade sanctions.
UANI launched its SWIFT campaign in January 2012, with a detailed legal explanation to SWIFT, international banking and regulatory officials, and U.S. lawmakers, showing how SWIFT was in violation of U.S. and EU sanctions--as well as its own bylaws--by affording Iranian banks BICs and access to the SWIFT system.
As a result, SWIFT discontinued services to Iranian institutions sanctioned by the EU, but permitted others to remain in the network.
Click here to read UANI's full letter to Senator Johnson.