When the discussion of possible ransom payments to Iran surfaced, everyone was wondering why the U.S. State Department sent pallets of assorted cash currency, totaling $400 million to Iran on January 17th 2016. The same day the hostages were released.
On August 4th President Obama held a press conference to discuss the controversy and denied it was a “ransom payment” (see video). Specifically, to answer the question of “why cash“, President Obama said:
[06:05] “and the only bit of news that is relevant on this, is the fact that we paid cash. Which brings me to my last point.
The reason that we had to give them cash is precisely because we are so strict in maintaining sanctions, and we do not have a banking relationship with Iran, that we couldn’t send them a check; and we could not wire the money.
And it is not at all clear to me why it is that cash, as opposed to a check or a wire transfer has made this into a news story”. [06:46]
However, two days later, January 19th 2016, the U.S. Treasury wired Iran 13 individual payments for $99,999,999.99 , each with an independent MICR, totaling $1,299,999,999.87.
Source Link – Go to U.S. Treasury Search, enter Jan 01 -> Jan 31, 2016. Select “Department of State”, (expand optional search fields) and at the bottom enter $99,999,999.99 and presto, the above appears.
Claudia Rosett was the first to discover the payments:
They were all made on the same day, all sharing the same file and control reference numbers, all certified by the U.S. Attorney General, but each assigned a different identification number. They add up to $1,299,999,999.87, or 13 cents less than the $1.3 billion Messrs. Obama and Kerry announced in January. (link)
Apparently President Obama was not being honest about why pallets of cash were sent and unloaded, and about the ability of the U.S. being able to wire Iran the funds.
So the question is back on the table. Why send $400 million via pallets of currency?
This absolutely looks like a ransom payment now.