Newsmakers : US Targets Trade Finance



Mancuso: Warns banks to be aware of their clients’ activities.

Mario Mancuso, head of the US Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), sent global bankers scurrying last month to check that they were doing no trade financing of dual-use or controlled technology being shipped by their clients to Iran. Mancuso told the banks they could face legal risks by violating US export controls by financing these prohibited transactions. “Dual-use” exports are items that have a legitimate use but that also can be used to maim and kill. There are thousands of such items.

“We have learned that there have been occasions in the past where US-controlled technology made its way to Iran and into Iraq, where it was used in IEDs [improvised explosive devices] against US and coalition forces,” said Mancuso, a combat veteran of the Iraq war. “We will do everything in our power to ensure that this never happens again,” he told a workshop at London’s Canary Wharf organized by the Export Compliance Training Institute and co-sponsored by the Institute of International Bankers.

Globalization has made it more difficult for the BIS to do its job, Mancuso says, since foreign locations are increasingly used for commercial activities that threaten US national security. BIS special agents are unable to work directly with their foreign law-enforcement counterparts.

Mancuso’s warning to banks is the Bush administration’s latest effort to tighten financial restrictions on Iran. The US imposed sanctions against Iranian banks last year, but banks in Russia, China and the Middle East are still doing business with banks in Iran.



Gordon Platt