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January 10 2020

IWF Fellow Claudia Rosett First Found the Trail of Obama's $1.3 Billion in Taxpayer Dollars to Iran

by IWF PRESS

It was the Independent Women's Forum's Claudia Rosett who found the trail of the $1.3 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars that the Obama administration, without informing Congress, paid to Iran in early 2016—transferred quietly out of Treasury in 13 payments of $99,999,999.99, within two days of Iran’s release of U.S. prisoners. and ultimately sent to Iran in cash. 
 
The WSJ then picked up the trail Rosett uncovered, to report, soon after Rosett's story in the New York Sun, that like the $400 million in frozen Iranian funds, the $1.3 billion that came from U.S. taxpayers’ pockets was ultimately conveyed to Iran in cash.
 
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From Rosett in New York Sun
Publish Date: August 22, 2016

Riddle of $1.3 Billion for Iran Might Relate to 13 Outlays Of Exactly $99,999,999.99

Congressional investigators trying to uncover the trail of $1.3 billion in payments to Iran might want to focus on 13 large, identical sums that Treasury paid to the State Department under the generic heading of settling “Foreign Claims.”

The 13 payments when added to the $400 million that the administration now concedes it shipped to the Iranian regime in foreign cash would bring the payout to the $1.7 billion that President Obama and Secretary Kerry announced on January 17. That total was to settle a dispute pending for decades before the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal in at The Hague.

Mr. Kerry told the press at the time that the settlement included $400 million that Iran under the Shah had paid into a U.S. trust fund for an arms deal that collapsed after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution. Plus, said Kerry, the U.S. had agreed to pay “a roughly $1.3 billion compromise on the interest.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon and Carole E. Lee broke earlier this month the news that on the same day that Mr. Obama announced the settlement, his administration secretly sent Iran the $400 million payment in cash. Last week, the State Department finally confirmed that the January 17 cash shipment was used as “leverage” to ensure Iran’s release that same day of four American prisoners — fueling questions about whether the Obama administration, despite its denials, had paid ransom.

Yet more questions surround the administration’s handling of the remaining $1.3 billion. Could this have been drawn from a fund bankrolled by American taxpayers and housed at Treasury, called the Judgment Fund? And why were the 13 payments in amounts of one cent less than $100,000,000?

The Judgment Fund has long been a controversial vehicle for federal agencies to detour past one of the most pointed prohibitions in the Constitution: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”

The Judgment Fund, according to a Treasury Department Web site, is “a permanent, indefinite appropriation” used to pay monetary awards against U.S. government agencies in cases “where funds are not legally available to pay the award from the agency’s own appropriations.”

In March, in letters responding to questions about the Iran settlement sent weeks earlier by Representatives Edward Royce and Mike Pompeo, the State Department confirmed that the $1.3 billion “interest” portion of the Iran settlement had been paid out of the Judgment Fund. But State gave no information on the logistics.

The 13 payments that may explain what happened are found in an online database maintained by the Judgment Fund. A search for “Iran” since the beginning of this year turns up nothing. But a search for claims in which the defendant is the State Department turns up 13 payments for $99,999,999.99.

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Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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