US billions for Iran sanction-busting firms

Last Updated: Sunday, March 7, 2010 - 13:30

Washington: Washington has awarded more than USD 107 billion in payments to foreign and US companies doing business in Iran despite US sanctions, The New York Times has reported.
That sum included nearly USD 15 billion paid to companies that defied US sanctions law by making large investments that helped Iran develop its vast oil and gas reserves, said the paper.

The Times compiled the figures from an analysis of government and business records.

Both President Barack Obama and former president George W Bush had sent mixed messages to the corporate world when it comes to doing business in Iran, said the report.

Their administrations had rewarded companies whose commercial interests conflicted with US security goals, it added.

More than two-thirds of the government money had gone to companies doing business in Iran’s energy industry, a stronghold of the increasingly powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Yet this group is meant to a primary focus of the Obama administration’s proposed sanctions because of its involvement in Iran`s nuclear and missile programs, the paper said.

Other companies had been involved in auto manufacturing and distribution.

The government payments included USD 102 billion contract payments since 2000; and nearly USD 4.5 billion in loans and loan guarantees from the Export-Import Bank.

Another USD 500 million was paid out in grants for work including cancer research and the transformation of agricultural byproducts into fuel, said the report.

In addition, oil and gas companies that had done business in Iran had over the years won lucrative drilling leases for close to 14 million acres of offshore and onshore federal land, the paper said.

The government bars US companies from most types of trade with Iran.

Among the foreign companies in the report were South Korean engineering giant Daelim Industrial, Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell and Brazilian state-controlled energy conglomerate Petrobras.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, March 7, 2010 - 13:30

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