There is a recent and excellent article by Peter Oborne which appeared in the Daily Telegraph on the 19th February. Whilst unfortunately it still shows that the Peter Oborne is both still fixated on Britishness and he has fallen into the common layman’s error that there is such a concept as “British Law” (whereas in fact there is the jurisdictions of England and Wales, of Scotland and of Northern Ireland, together with Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, etc!)
The point that he makes so well is the blindingly obvious one that not only is the British Government uninterested, unwilling and, indeed, incompetent to look after the interests of England and Englishness, but it is not even capable of showing an interest in looking after British interests. The sooner it is consigned to history the better!
Here is Peter Oborne’s article in full:-
The US has bullied our banks into handing over a billion dollars
Quietly and without notice, Britain has surrendered control over its trade with Iran"Recently, a friend of mine purchased a small quantity of Iranian saffron from a Birmingham merchant for £30 over the internet. This transaction was legal according to British and international law. It did not contravene any United Nations resolution. He transferred the funds via PayPal, the international payments firm. The money was paid in pounds sterling. What happened next was outrageous. PayPal sent him a menacing email informing him that he was in breach of US law, and asked him to sign a form admitting that he had behaved illegally.
At this point my friend rang me in alarm. He is a British citizen, had done nothing wrong under British law, yet here he was being threatened by the United States as if he was a criminal. When I looked into the matter, I quickly discovered that my friend’s experience was the tip of an enormous iceberg. It is not just private individuals who are persecuted in this way by the United States. Private companies suffer from exactly this harassment, as do banks.
Without protest, Britain has given away control over its trade with Iran to a department inside the US Treasury called the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC). This body monitors US sanctions by pursuing foreign companies involved in trade with Iran. It has already persecuted major British banks, including RBS, HSBC, Barclays and Lloyds. In total, these banks have paid out more than a billion dollars in penalties, even though they have done nothing wrong under British or international law.
The most significant example is the British bank Standard Chartered, which specialises in doing business in the Middle East and Asia. It felt obliged to pay an incredible $667 million to OFAC and other agencies. In fact, Standard Chartered was blackmailed by the US authorities. The bank was given a choice between being cut out of all business with the US, or complying with its sanctions regime against Iran.
I am certainly not saying that sanctions are wrong. Indeed, it is essential to stress that in Britain we do have our own sanctions against Iran, for instance against companies or state entities alleged to be involved in nuclear weaponry. But these have been agreed democratically, in the sense that they are open to scrutiny and criticism in and out of Parliament. In a system that relies on rule by consent, this gives them legitimacy.
What is deeply troubling, however, is the presence of informal, secondary sanctions which the United States has inflicted against Iran by bullying British banks. These might as well be secret. Bankers never talk about them. Parliament has not debated, or even discussed, these sanctions. They haven’t been announced, let alone agreed, by any minister. They are not government policy. And yet the United States has enforced an informal banking boycott of Iran, unilaterally imposed on Britain and other foreign countries.
The response of the Government is very troubling. In the normal course of events, one would expect ministers to defend very stoutly any company or individual prevented from going about their lawful business by a foreign power. But neither Downing Street nor the Foreign Office have lifted a finger.
It is important to stress that this supine approach is new. Contrary to legend, Margaret Thatcher stood up strongly against United States pressure. According to my colleague Charles Moore’s superb biography, the Reagan administration tried to stop a British company, John Brown, selling turbines to a Russian gas pipeline project that would supply much of mainland Europe. Mrs Thatcher probably disliked the idea as much as Reagan. But she was adamant that British companies should not be subject to American laws, so insisted that John Brown fight its corner. Her defiance worked. “Maggie Thatcher has made me realise that I have been wrong,” Reagan eventually acknowledged. A new agreement removed sanctions and allowed John Brown to sell to Moscow.
But that was Thatcher. We are talking now about Messrs Cameron and Hague, who show no such determination to defend British interests against foreign threats. Indeed, by a perverse irony, it is actually easier for a US company to trade with Iran than a British one under the Coalition. This is because the bank of a US exporter to Iran can process payments without threat from OFAC, so long as the deal has OFAC approval. The bank of a British exporter will be persecuted, even though it has the approval of the British Treasury.
Though most bankers refuse to talk about OFAC, one insider told me it operates like this. “OFAC tells the British bank that it will suffer consequences (for example, loss of a US banking licence, or blacklisting) if it doesn’t agree to a settlement. The bank must agree to cooperate with the authorities by ceasing all business with Iran. It must then pay a penalty stretching to millions of dollars. It is also made to promise not to reveal the terms of the agreement or the process that led to it – even though the US authorities can do so if they wish.
“This is like plea-bargaining. The case isn’t taken to court: presumably the banks judge that they will be penalised less if they settle with OFAC. And this threatening process creates an example for others, so it is no wonder that the rest of the banking industry falls into line.”
So far as I can discover, it is impossible for any British bank to evade this US sanctions regime. Even if the contract with Iran is written under British law, and specifically outside the scope of US jurisdiction, that seems to be no protection to any company targeted by OFAC. Any bank that has an operation in the United States, or makes any transaction in US dollars, places itself within reach of punishment.
The effect of this financial blockade is to ensure that the British banking industry cannot provide trade finance or money transmission services for entirely legal trade with Iran. Even medical or humanitarian goods can’t be paid for. Most banks are so terrified of the United States that they will close down the account of any customer who even has a connection with Iran. The flimsiest and most unproven suspicion is enough for banking facilities to be withdrawn. The boycott has been enforced by British banks, even though it is against British policy, because of American threats.
The same imbalance exists in other areas. For example, Tony Blair negotiated a treaty which gave the United States powers to extradite British citizens, which it frequently exercises, yet we are unable to do the same in return. The failure of British politicians to protest is extraordinary. Prime Minister Cameron and Foreign Secretary Hague speak out eloquently when the European Union is accused of intrusion on British sovereignty. But when it comes to the United States, they are completely silent – and this silence means assent.
Perhaps they are happy enough that Britain should be a client state of America, but unhappy to pool sovereignty with the European Union. If so, they should come forward and say so. One thing is certain. The current shameful and humiliating situation would never have been tolerated by a prime minister, such as Margaret Thatcher, who stood up for British interests. It is time that David Cameron started to behave more like the Iron Lady, and less like Tony Blair".
Here is a link to the original article>>>The US has bullied our banks into handing over a billion dollars - Telegraph