Posted in Iran Economy, Sanctions
on Aug 7th, 2012
Source: Sky News – Hannah Thomas-Peter, New York Correspondent
Standard Chartered bank has been accused of hiding $250bn worth of illegal transactions with Iranian banks over nearly a decade.
The New York department of financial services says the bank operated as a “rogue institution”, engaged in “deceptive and fraudulent misconduct”, and lied to regulators to cover up its actions.
It is now demanding that Standard Chartered demonstrate why its state license should not be revoked.
In documents released by the regulator, department superintendent Benjamin Lawsky said Standard Chartered, “in its evident zeal to make hundreds of millions of dollars at any cost”, had “schemed” with Iran’s government to cover-up around 60,000 transactions.
Under US law, any financial dealings with Iranian banks are subject to sanctions because of concerns that US institutions could be used to finance the country’s nuclear programme or terrorist operations.
The New York regulator alleges that the bank arranged to help the Iranians by omitting or falsifying the name of the client in order to ensure transactions did not raise any red flags.
The department says the bank engaged in prohibited U-turn transactions, where a non-US financial institution transfers funds to a US bank, which then wires money directly to another non-US financial institution.
It also alleges that the practice was sanctioned at the highest levels of Standard Chartered, quoting a bank director who said: “You f*****g Americans. Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we’re not going to deal with Iranians?”
Mr Lawsky said the bank’s actions “left the US financial system vulnerable to terrorists, weapons dealers, drug kingpins and corrupt regimes”, and deprived law enforcement investigators of crucial information used to track all manner of criminal investigation.
A person familiar with the investigation said Standard Chartered must appear before the regulator on August 15, and that it must prove why “despite all its prior activities”, it is still fit to practice in New York State.
As well as possibly revoking the bank’s license, the regulator has also insisted the bank pay for an independent monitor to make sure it complies with the law.
A spokeswoman for the bank told Sky News: “We will of course be complying with the department’s requests.”
The bank said it is reviewing its compliance and discussing that with US enforcement agencies and regulators.
A statement said: “The group cannot predict when this review and these discussions will be completed or what the outcome will be.”
Standard Chartered is based in London but has a significant operation in New York, which includes wholesale banking, corporate finance and the bank’s dollar clearing operation.
A UK Treasury spokesman said: “The findings look extremely concerning and we will be looking closely at the response from Standard Chartered.”
This is not the first time a British bank has faced accusations of facilitating illegal foreign transactions.
Last month a US senate banking panel said Mexican drug cartels and Iranian financial institutions had used HSBC to get money to the United States.
Posted in Human rights
on Aug 2nd, 2012
Londoners should be worried that the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), a khomeinist organisation, has advertisements running on London buses advertising the upcoming al-Quds day march on Friday 17th August. The IHRC is a charity in the United Kingdom. Its accounts are 95 days overdue.
Transport for London should redact any further advertising from the IHRC. Contrary to its name, its interests have little to do with the promotion of human rights and much to do with the advancement of Islamism and groups like the terrorist proxy-army of Iran, Hizbullah.
Consider the following:
For some time, the IHRC has been campaigning for the “Blind Sheikh”, Omar Abdel Rahman: the spiritual leader of, Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, which later were consolidated into Al Qaeda. He was an associate of Bin Laden, and his teacher, Abdullah Azzam. Having moved to New York to fundraise for Al Qaeda, the Blind Sheikh was convicted of various charges arising from the the World Trade Center 1993 bombings.
Here’s what they say about the man:
Action Alert: Egypt – IHRC calls for the release of Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman and his return to Egypt
Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman is an elderly Egyptian sheikh, imprisoned in the United States in 1995 through sedition laws last used during the American civil war. He is now 73 years of age, and his health has deteriorated significantly. There is a high chance that he may die soon, and his family have requested for him to be able to spend his last moments with them in Egypt.
Sheikh Abdul Rahman was imprisoned several times in Egypt in 1970 and 1981 for 3 years. He left Egypt in 1990 after facing security restrictions and being put under house arrest for a year. Three years after arriving to the US, he was arrested on de-contextualised evidences and sentenced to a life sentence.
The elderly Islamic scholar, educated at the prestigious al-Azhar University in Cairo, and unceremoniously dubbed by the media as the Godfather of the Islamic Group, has been a harsh critic of the regime of Hosni Mubarak. He has welcomed initiatives by the Islamic Group to stop the violence currently taking place in Egypt.
Sheikh Abdul Rahman spent 18 years under solitary confinement, and is restricted from being having visitors.
His lawyer Lyne Stuart [sic], the only person granted permission to visit the elderly Sheikh, was also convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for relaying messages between the Sheikh and his family.
The fact that the Blind Sheikh is the IHRC’s Prisoner of Conscience tells you everything you need to know about this organisation.
The IHRC’s fanaticism isn’t just based on Islamic supremacism. The gay-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has documented how the Islamic Human Rights Commission promoted the speaking tour of the hate preacher Abdullah Hakim Quick. Tatchell identified that Quick was on record in saying the following:
• AIDS is caused by the “filthy practices” of homosexuals
• Homosexuals are dropping dead from AIDS and “they want to take us all down with them”
• The Islamic position on homosexuality is “death”
• Homosexuals are “sick” and “not natural”
• “Muslims are going to have to take a stand [against homosexuals] and it’s not enough to call names”.
There is a precedent for cancelling advertisements on London’s buses. Earlier this year, Mayor of London Boris Johnson personally intervened to stop a bus poster campaign claiming to ‘cure gays’. The Mayor of London should intervene to stop the IHRC from claiming legitimacy by advertising on the TfL network.
The IHRC’s flagship campaign is its promotion of al-Quds day. al-Quds day was founded by the Iranian theocrat Ayotollah Khomeini to express ‘solidarity’ with the Palestinian people. In reality, it’s a day dedicated to fanatical Israel hatred.
In al-Quds day 2011, have a look at what was being paraded:
The picture shows an IHRC poster with “We are all Hizbullah”. Hizbullah is the proxy terrorist organisation that takes its orders from Iran. Its job is to destabilise Lebanon and its border with Israel.
Most prominently a UN tribunal investigating the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri found Hezbollah at the centre of their investigation. The United States, amongst other Western nations, as well as countries including Egypt and Bahrain consider Hizbullah a terrorist organisation.
The IHRC allowed the Hizbullah flag to be paraded. The flag carries the iconic picture of an assault rifle.
Here is a picture of the IHRC going some-way in fulfilling its charitable objective: “To promote Human Rights and equality and diversity (in particular good race relations) throughout the world”:
Here is a picture of an IHRC endorsed banner comparing Zionism to Apartheid and Nazism. The flag of Israel is crossed out and one of the holders has a ‘Palestinian Solidarity Campaign’ label on his top:
In a previous al-Quds day, the IHRC allowed Taji Mustafa, a spokesperson for the Islamist group Hizb-ut-tahir to be given an unchallenged platform. Here’s a taste of what Mustafa said to the crowd:
This ummah needs a ruler who will stand up for Islam. Who will unite us behind Qur’an. Who will follow the words of the prophet and who will send an army. The army of Egypt is not the army of Egypt. The army of Iran is not the army of Iran. The army of Jordan is not the army of Jordan. These are the armies of Islam. These are the armies of the Muslim ummah. These are the armies that have to move. Takbir! Takbir! Takbir!
Yes, give your charity, may Allah accept it. Yes, make duaa (prayer) for the Palestinians, may Allah accept it. But you have to call, you have to demand, you have to march, that the Muslim armies, they have to disobey their orders. The Muslim armies in Egypt, Jordan and Syria, they have to disobey their presidents and these puppets of the West. They have to move across the borders. They have to liberate Gaza. They have to liberate Palestine, the whole of the land again. Takbir! Takbir! Takbir!
The Charity Commission found nothing wrong with this.
What you can do
Contact TfL’s partner for advertising on London’s buses, CBS Outdoor. You can contact Aiden Dunning, the Director of Legal & Business Affairs, at:firstname.lastname@example.org (telephone: 020 7428 2874) and feel free to Cc in Mike Hemmings, their head of Marketing, at:email@example.com (telephone: 020 7428 2852).
If you’re a Londoner, contact your MP, local councillors and assembly members – you can find out who they are and how to contact them, here.
Attempts to advertise their events by other extremist organisations including the English Defence League would be rightly crushed. A five minute phone call with your elected representative and a polite e-mail to the gentleman above could be all this needed to get the IHRC off the buses of London.
Posted in Iran Revolutionary Guard, Minorities in Iran, Religious Oppression
on Jun 13th, 2012
This is crosspost from Benjamin Weinthal in the Weekly Standard
As the U.S. and its allies prepare to return to the negotiating table with Iranian representatives, hoping to reach a deal on their nuclear ambitions, the Islamic Republic has significantly ratcheted up its efforts to repress religious minorities in the country.
According to a new report from the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, “Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Intelligence Organization has recently and abruptly taken over the oversight of Christian churches in Iran, which were previously overseen by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence and the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.”
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ latest crackdown marks a new phase in the regime’s goal of clamping down Christian beliefs.
In late May, Iranian authorities closed the Assembly of God church, which had provided “two services per week for 80 to 100 attendees, as well as prayer sessions and bible studies” to the struggling Christian community in Tehran.
According to the humanitarian group, Iranian officials told leaders of the church that they must close its doors—and that if they didn’t comply, the regime would seize the building altogether.
As my colleague Cliff May has noted, the “persecution of Christians in numerous Muslim-majority countries is the most important international story not being told by the mainstream media.”
So far, major media outlets have ignored the closures of the Iranian churches. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran noted that the regime had shut down the Assembly Church in the southern city of Ahvaz on December 23, 2011, two days before Christmas.
In 2009, Iranian leaders arrested Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani for merely questioning the compulsory Islamic education of his children and seeking to register a home-based church. He has now been incarcerated for nearly 1,000 days, and faces the death penalty.
Iran’s campaign to stifle religious minorities and free thinkers has even spilled over into Europe. Earlier this week, the German-Iranian scholar Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh wrote about a new fatwa in which Iran’s leaders condemned an Iranian rapper living in Germany to death.
According to Dr. Wahdat-Hagh, rapper Shahin Najafi’s only crime was insulting a Shia Imam. The clerical regime’s fanaticism has even resulted in the creation of an online video game in which web surfers can “practice the execution of ‘apostates.’”
When the Obama administration meets Iran’s representatives over their nuclear program, it should pressure them on the human rights front, as well.
Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Posted in Global March to Jerusalem, Iran's neighbours, Israel- Iran relations
on Mar 30th, 2012
German Left Party, Sunni Islamists and the Iranian regime collaborate against Israel
STOP THE BOMB press release, March 30, 2012
Today’s “Global March to Jerusalem” is part of a growing campaign to delegitimize and isolate Israel, which includes the Gaza flotillas or boycott campaigns. (1) Until recently, these activities have been mainly organized by an international network of Palestinian organizations, the Muslim Brotherhood and leftist anti-Zionist groups. The March to Jerusalem is the first event that has the open and substantial support of the Iranian regime. This underlines the Islamist and anti-Semitic goals of the March and gives him a new, dangerous quality.
As a caravan that is part of the march, arriving in Tehran on March 17, they met among others the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He said at this occasion that “the existence of Israel is illegal, and be it only on one inch of Palestinian soil”. (2) Even when wide parts of the organizations that participate at the March share this view, there are reports about tensions within the coalition. Some Palestinian organizations fear that the pro-Iranian participants of the march will act very violently. (3)
In Germany, members of the Left Party are again collaborating with anti-Semitic and Islamist forces. On the supporters list of the March are MP Annette Groth, the former foreign policy spokesperson of the Left Party Norman Paech as well as Jürgen Aust, board member of the Left Party in North Rhine-Westphalia. (4)
STOP THE BOMB spokesperson Michael Spaney comments: “Parts of the Left Party and anyone else participating in the March to Jerusalem are collaborating with the Iranian regime in the struggle against Israel. They collaborate with a regime that is responsible for mass executions and grave human rights violations, that has a president who just recently denied the Holocaust on German Television and that strives for nuclear weapons. The reference to human rights and non-violence by the marchers and their supporters thus loses any credibility.”
The protest against the alleged “Judaization” of Jerusalem is sheer cynicism coming from a regime that systematically discriminates and persecutes religious minorities. The small remaining Jewish community in Iran has been coerced to support the march and to distance themselves from Israel. (5) Adjacent to oppressing the Iranian Jews, the regime of the Islamic Republic especially threatens and persecutes Baha’i and Christians, often with the accusation of being “Zionist agents”.
The political and military support for Assad’s bloody crackdown on the uprising in Syria has earned the Iranian regime the hate of the Arab-Sunni world. The support of the March to Jerusalem is thus also a doomed attempt to regain sympathy and to distract from the enormous problems that confront the regime. Those include the effects of the massively tightened economic sanctions and the discontent of the Iranian population, which in great parts rejects the regime.
More and updated information about the march are available here: http://gm2j.co/
(2) http://jungle-world.com/von-tunis-nach-teheran/1592/ (German)
Find this press release online: http://de.stopthebomb.net/en/press/press-releases.html#c2291