In November 2011, then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced new sanctions on Iran; a response to their continued advancement of a nuclear program. In what became a disastrous term as the United States’ top diplomat – during which Clinton managed to alienate several foreign leaders and sat silent as Americans died in Benghazi – she did earn for herself a reputation for being tough on Iran. How serious was Clinton when she supported the Iran sanctions, however? Not so much, it now appears. The link between Clinton and illegal Iranian oil money has been, naturally, ignored by the media. Dick Morris, former advisor to President Bill Clinton, initially revealed the details of this link on his website.
The truth about the Clinton connection to the circumvention of sanctions against the Islamic Republic is more like a re-run of the many scandals that have surrounded her and her formerly impeached husband. Whilst appearing to favor sanctions against Iran, she – and Bill Clinton – had connections to a corporation that was aiding Iran in its efforts to circumvent those same sanctions.
In 1997, the former First Lady and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright founded The Vital Voices Democracy Initiative. This Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) aims to promote women’s rights and mentor women as leaders and “social entrepreneurs”, according to its website. In 2009, Clinton announced that the organization had partnered with UK-based bank Standard Chartered, which is headquartered in London and operates in Africa and Asia. This bank was also in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative, founded by the former President. Standard Chartered had a very active relationship with both Bill and Hillary’s organization; investing vast amounts of money in various projects. Currently the Vital Voices website still lists Standard Chartered as a partner.
The bank had another major financial interest, however – one that began well before it became involved with either of the Clinton NGOs and continued into those partnerships. According to the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) and the US Department of Justice, between 2001 and 2010 Standard Chartered laundered $250 billion on behalf of Iran, in order to facilitate the country’s ability to continue collecting revenue from the sale of oil, in contravention of US sanctions. It did so, essentially, by routing wire transfers through various European banks and clearing them through its New York branch. During these transfers, any information connecting the payments to Iran was erased. In the process, the bank is said to have made millions of dollars in fees.
Standard Chartered was successfully prosecuted by the Department of Justice and the state of New York in late 2012. It paid a total of $667 million dollars in fines and had some assets seized by the DoJ. The New York State DFS has stated that these years of illegal activity on the part of this prominent Clinton partner “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 activity.”
Other than the scandal of Hillary Clinton, presumably a 2016 presidential hopeful, having partnered her organization with a bank that has been found guilty of breaking US law for ten years, there is the additional irony of her self-promotion as a champion of women’s rights; In Iran, of course, women have been stripped of almost all individual rights.
Clinton supporters will, no doubt, dismiss this as a ‘non-story’ and claim that it is unjustified to claim a link between her and Standard Chartered’s criminal activities. It should be noted, however, that these same people were constantly raising the links between the Bush administration and the US company Haliburton – a company which was, incidentally, the recipient of a no-bid contract from the Obama administration. Additionally, those on the political Left are very determined promoters of the concept of guilt by association, having often called for boycotts of businesses and corporations that sponsor activities or political causes with which they do not agree. By their own standards, therefore, the Left cannot simply brush off the fact that Clinton’s NGO is taking money from a bank that has engaged in criminal activity with a long-time enemy of the United States and, in addition, a state that oppresses women; the very thing that Clinton’s organization is supposed to be fighting.
An Editorial by Graham J Noble