May 13, 2016
Kerry’s Peculiar Message about Iran for European Banks – Stuart Levey
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Thursday in London with a group of European financial institutions for a discussion about “Iranian banking matters,” following repeated Iranian complaints that they aren’t getting the benefit of the bargain under the nuclear deal. No one has claimed that Iran has ceased to engage in much of the same conduct for which it was sanctioned, including actively supporting terrorism and building and testing ballistic missiles. But now Washington is pushing non-U.S. banks to do what it is still illegal for American banks to do. This is a very odd position for the U.S. government to be taking.
Washington has warned repeatedly that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps controls broad swaths of the Iranian economy. The IRGC remains sanctioned by both the U.S. and the EU because of the central role it plays in Iran’s illicit conduct.
HSBC is endeavoring to implement consistent and high standards across its global operations, designed to combat financial crime and prevent abuse by illicit actors. HSBC has no intention of doing any new business involving Iran. Governments can lift sanctions, but the private sector is still responsible for managing its own risk and no doubt will be held accountable if it falls short. The writer is chief legal officer of HSBC Holdings, and was the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the U.S. Treasury Department (2004-11). (Wall Street Journal)