Sunday, November 14, 2004

Bush Administration Talks Tough on Policing Sanctions, But Actions Speak Louder Than Words

An Associated Press analysis has found that the Bush administration's average penalty against companies doing business with "terrorist-sponsoring" states fell sharply after the 9/11 attacks.

The computer-assisted analysis of federal records, released last week, found that the average penalty for a company doing business with Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan or Libya was more than $50,000 for the five years before the 2001 attacks. But it was just $18,700 since the attacks.

A Treasury Department spokeswoman said that despite the smaller average fines, the departments' Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) was doing its job, and remained "committed to ensuring that U.S. entities abide by U.S. sanction laws."

Some analysts questioned some trends within the federal records the AP analyzed. For example, 19 executives or directors of companies fined by OFAC for dealing with state sponsors of terrorism were top campaign fund-raisers for Bush.

That's only a small percentage of those fined overall, but raised eyebrows nonetheless, in part because Bush seemingly ignored past transgressions when he rewarding some of these fined executives with political appointments.

For example, Joseph J. Grano Jr. was hand-selected by Bush as chairman of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Grano formerly headed the U.S. subsidiary of Swiss bank UBS, which has been fined for trading U.S. currency to Iran and transferring funds to Iraq during Saddam's rule. Those illegal moves were conducted under Grano's helm.

Of course, Bush has never publicly commented on Vice President Cheney's former company, Halliburton. Halliburton, which has yet to be fined, expanded its trade with Iran through an off-shore subsidiary during Cheney's term running the company, from 1995 to 2000. Halliburton's dealings with Iran are now being investigated by a federal grand jury.

While at Halliburton, Cheney was a vocal critic of the very embargoes OFAC fights, although he has changed that stance since becoming vice president. Bush renewed the ban against trade with Iran in 2001.

***

The AP used publicly available OFAC records to compile a database of penalties paid by companies for doing business with terrorists or their state sponsors. The database includes entries for more than 500 such cases since 1996.

Analysis of the database showed average penalties for violating the embargoes fell for every terrorism-sponsoring country after the attacks:

Cuba. Pre-9/11 average penalty: $98,000. Post-9/11 average: $23,500.
Iran. Pre-9/11 average penalty: $33,500. Post-9/11 average: $17,300.
Iraq: Pre-9/11 average penalty: $101,000. Post-9/11 average: $74,800.
Libya: Pre-9/11 average penalty: $41,000. Post-9/11 average: $12,800.

The AP reports that there was only one fine since 2001 involving a deal with North Korea. It was for prohibited transactions from the 1990s.

U.S. laws such as the Trading With the Enemy Act prohibit most trade with a handful of designated countries: Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Cuba. Libya was on the list until this year, after its government agreed to disclose and dismantle its clandestine nuclear and chemical weapons programs. The Bush administration also removed Iraq from the banned list this year after the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Powell has resigned. Now Bush can put someone in there who can finally use our power to tell Old Europe where to go! Welcome to the new world order.

4:26 PM  

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