July 10, 2018 | The Jerusalem Post

Report: Germany considers Iranian bid to withdraw 300 million Euros cash

Tehran’s regime plans to use the European-Iranian trade bank in the northern German city of Hamburg – with the approval of the German government – to transfer 300 million euros in cash to circumvent pending US sanctions, according to a Sunday report in Germany’s mass circulation Bild.

Israeli and American officials believe that the money may be used to finance terrorism.

The Bild wrote that “the Iranian regime intends to fly 300 million euros in cash from Germany to Iran. The background is that, in the coming months, strict US sanctions against the Iranian financial sector will come into effect. The mullahs are worried that they will run out of cash.”

Germany’s largest daily paper added that” “This plan will probably lead to serious diplomatic difficulties between Germany, the US and Israel.”

The paper said that Iran needs the cash “to pass it on to Iranian individuals who, when traveling abroad, are dependent on euros in cash due to their lack of access to accepted credit cards.”

The US State Department classifies the Iranian regime as a leading state-sponsor of terrorism. The Bild wrote that “American and Israeli intelligence services are alarmed. They are concerned that the cash money will, for instance, be used to finance terrorism.”

According to the report, the government denied the possibility of terror finance. Germany’s government will allow Iran’s clerical regime to use the European-Iranian trade bank (Europäisch-Iranische Handelsbank) for the transfer.

The US and the EU governments previously sanctioned the Hamburg- based bank for its role in Iran’s nuclear and missile program. After the world powers reached an agreement to curb its nuclear program in 2015, the sanctions on the bank were lifted.

According to the Bild report, “The accounts of the mullah bank [European- Iranian trade bank] are managed by the German Bundesbank. The Bundesbank is asked to pay out 300 million euros in cash and to hand it over to representatives of the Iranian regime. They will then transport the money to Iran on board Iranian airplanes.”

The report said that “The Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin, Bundesanstalt für Finanzleistungsaufsicht) has initiated a review of the bank, based on the Banking and Money Laundering Act.”

The Jerusalem Post reported last week that a German intelligence report from the state of Bavaria concluded that the Islamic Republic of Iran is working to turn its conventional military weapons into a system for weapons of mass destruction.

“Iran, North Korea, Syria and Pakistan are making efforts to expand their conventional weapons arsenal through the production of weapons of mass destruction,” wrote the Bavarian intelligence agency in April.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel remains a strong proponent of the Iran nuclear deal and believes that the accord will stop Tehran from obtaining a nuclear-weapon device. She has not commented on the findings of her intelligence agencies that appear to contradict her views regarding the effectiveness of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal.

The Post reported in early June that the intelligence agency of the German state of Baden-Württemberg wrote in a report: “Iran continued to undertake, as did Pakistan and Syria, efforts to obtain goods and know-how to be used for the development of weapons of mass destruction and to optimize corresponding missile-delivery systems.”

Benjamin Weinthal reports on human rights in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.

Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD. FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.