Is the Government Hiding Chase’s Cooperation in the Scary Iran Plot?

As I noted in this post, earlier this month, the government unsealed the redacted first complaint in the Scary Iran Plot. I will do a post summarizing the differences between the original and amended complaint later (short version: in a number of ways seeing both complaints weakens their case slightly against Quds Force).

But in this post, I want to suggest–and this is speculation–that the secrecy about the complaint may serve, in part, to protect JP Morgan Chase.

The redactions in the original complaint are minimal, most of which hide the details by which Arbabsiar transferred money from what appears to be a European bank to the FBI account. These redactions are:

¶3a: An 8-character word modifying “country” describing the bank from which the first installment of money was sent. I believe the redacted word is “European.”

¶3b: An 8-character word modifying “country” describing the bank from which the first installment of money was sent. I believe the redacted word is “European.”

Footnote 5: A 14-character word modifying “country” that we know to be “Latin American” (a reference to the planned attacks in Argentina). A 14-character word modifying “country” that is probably “Middle-Eastern” (the reference to planned attacks on Israeli targets), followed by a longer redaction that may describe the location of the intended Israeli targets.

¶22c: A 5-character word modifying “bank” that–the amended complaint makes clear–is a US bank.

¶25: An 8-character word modifying “country” that is likely “European” and a 9-character word naming the bank in question.

¶27: An 8-character word naming a bank from which the second chunk of money was transferred. Since the Amended Complaint makes it clear the money came from two different foreign entities (and since the lengths of the redaction appear to be different), this must be a different bank.

In other words, the only things redacted from the original complaint are the other intended targets–which have already been made public–and the details surrounding the transfer of money from Arbabsiar (or his brother) to the FBI Account.

Now, generally, the redactions may just be an attempt to hide the fact that the FBI used SWIFT to track the money from Arbabsiar to the FBI or that one or more European partners helped them make build this case. But if the government’s allegations are correct and this plot was orchestrated by the Quds Force and Abdul Reza Shahlai specifically (both of whom were and are designated terrorists) then all of the banks involved in the transfer would presumably be party to the transfer of money that ultimately derived from sanctioned entities (though by laundering through Arbabsiar and his brother that may not have been apparent to them).

And I can’t help but note that one of the big international banks in Manhattan with a 5-character name is Chase. And I can’t help but note something I already pointed out: roughly two weeks after the transfers were completed but before Arbabsiar’s arrest, JP Morgan Chase agreed to pay $88.3 million to settle charges it had violated sanctions against Sudan, Cuba, Liberia and … Iran. Now, the sanction violations JPMC admitted to with respect to Iran were in 2009. It also admitted to failing to stop wire transfers from sanctioned entities in 2006-2008. But I do wonder whether the coincidence between these transfers–allegedly supporting the assassination of the Saudi Ambassador–and JPMC’s sanction suggest either that the government got Chase to cooperate in this investigation as part of their settlement, or that Treasury forced JPMC to settle based on their role in accepting wired money for such an alleged crime.

In any case, the big thing that the government seems most intent on hiding are which European and American banks are still accepting wire transfers that ultimately (allegedly) tie back to the Quds Force. Because as we know, the government’s job is to hide evidence of the banksters’ crimes, not prosecute them.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

7 replies
  1. thatvisionthing says:

    @thatvisionthing: and via sidebar… seriously?!

    NYPD ‘Loses’ the Occupy Wall Street Wikileaks Truck

    But last Thursday morning—the morning of Occupy Wall Street’s big day of action—Stoeckly was pulled over on Broadway and Cedar Street near Zuccotti Park. The cops used the fact that his license plate was crooked, and that he turned on his windshield wipers without his lights as pretense to pull him over, Stoeckley told us in a phone interview. (New York law requires drivers to use headlights “whenever you are using your windshield wipers to clear rain, snow, sleet, etc.”)

    Police demanded to search the vehicle, and when Stoeckley refuse they arrested him for “Obstructing Governmental Administration.” Stoeckley’s lawyer, Wiley Stecklow, said he’s concerned Stoeckly was arrested “unlawfully,” simply for “refusing to consent to a search.”

    My civics lessons for the day, I learned two new we-the-people crimes: terroristic mischief and obstructing governmental administration … and went back and looked at the Declaration of Independence:

    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

    also kinda charmed by the manly firmness clause:

    He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

    Hope that’s not too far off topic here — it probably belongs in the orange sweater terror theater diary

    damn I miss real juries

  2. thatvisionthing says:

    @klynn: Really? I missed the Texas Army, I was so taken by the visual gestalt of it all. So it’s not quite the second coming of Abbie Hoffman after all? Damn.

    Ah well, eye of the beholder, what I saw was fabulous. Made me think of the scene in Coming Home when Jon Voight locked the Marine Corps gates closed and chained himself in his wheelchair to it to keep kids out and stop the war flow. Made the news, made the point. Made Jane Fonda fall in love with him. Was good.

    (And “terroristic mischief”? :-) fighting crazy with crazy

  3. mzchief says:

    I just met a person who had their home ripped off in an unprosecuted case of fraud-closure in Washington State.

    From “It’s easy to steal your ATM pin, and easy to stop it – why won’t US banks fix it?” (AmericaBlog.Com, By Myrddin, Nov. 23, 2011):

    I lost interest in banking security after the crash because security is all about risk management and the crash proved that the banks were doing a lousy job at managing the risks they were meant to understand. According to estimates based on my conversations with bank security staff and information from financial reports etc., Internet related fraud costs US banks approximately $1 billion a year of which about a quarter is actual losses and the rest is the cost of dealing with the fraud. A billion dollars sounds a lot of money because it is a lot of money. But the banks managed to blow over a trillion dollars because it turned out they had been mismanaging the risk of mortgage lending for decades.

    Koch brothers tipped off before it was made official that MF Global was tanking and get to move their billion$ elsewhere.

    Then there’s the sick response Rumfeld makes in this video of his mic check: “Activists disrupt Donald Rumsfeld speaking event in Plano, Texas” (Mondoweiss.Net, by Seham, Nov. 20, 2011)

    Folks are really frustrated and angry over the wasteland made of their lives by the 1%. Only Mark Fiore was able to wring a laugh out of me today: “ContagionEx” (Nov. 16, 2011)

    You guys do really great work here. Thank you for that and please keep it up. Meanwhile, have a well-deserved and really nice holiday with your loved ones. :-)

Comments are closed.