Cablegate: Unscr 1737/Iran: Dutch Receptive to Treasury Under

DE RUEHTC #0566/01 0861521
O 271521Z MAR 07





E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/12/2017



Classified By: Economic Counselor Karen Enstrom,
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (S) SUMMARY. In meetings March 8 in The Hague, senior
GONL officials told visiting Treasury Under Secretary Levey
that a nuclear-armed Iran would be unacceptable. While
supporting USG aims for a second UN resolution on Iran, these
officials stressed the need for practical and
non-discriminatory measures. Dutch banks ING and ABN Amro
asserted that they are fully compliant with USG regulations,
with ABN Amro reporting that it is in the process of
eliminating its business with Iran in all currencies. This
message has been cleared by U/S Levey. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and
Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey visited the Netherlands
March 8 for talks on Iran and UNSCR 1737, specifically to
encourage an inclusive reading of the resolution and to
discuss with the financial sector the risks of doing business
with Iran. The following reports on U/S Levey's discussions
with officials from the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs
(MFA) and Finance (MOF), as well as the management of Dutch
banks ABN Amro and ING. U/S Levey was accompanied to these
meetings by Senior Advisor to U/S Levey Amanda Curtis, Senior
Analyst Mike Madon, State Department (NEA) Deputy Director
for Iranian Affairs Henry Wooster, and Econoff.

Levey's Introductory Message: Iran a Threat

3. (C) U/S Levey told MFA officials he traveled to the
Middle East to talk with governments about efforts to
financially isolate Iran. Iran was viewed as a real threat
in the region, and there was great concern about Iran's
pursuit of nuclear weapons, he said. Most in the region also
saw UNSCR 1737 and reduced investment in Iran affecting the
Iranian elite, leading to questioning of their government's
policies and harsher criticism of the Iranian regime in the
news. U/S Levey said the USG believed Iran was surprised
that the impact from UNSCR 1737 was greater than originally

4. (C) U/S Levey noted the USG remains interested in, and
countries have to commit to finding, a peaceful solution.
The USG is trying to increase awareness of Iran's business
risks, and U/S Levey noted that many companies are realizing
this is not the right time to do business with Iran.

MFA: A Nuclear Iran is Unacceptable

5. (C) Wim Geerts, MFA Deputy Director General for
Political Affairs, told U/S Levey that a nuclear Iran was
not an option and that a regime that denies the Holocaust
cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons. Geerts added that
while the Netherlands had changed governments, there would be
no softening toward Iran and that he expected the MFA to
continue its three track approach. First, he said, is the
effort to maintain pressure on Iran concerning its support of
terror and violations of human rights, support for UNSCR
1737, and reaching common ground on a new resolution.
Second, Geerts advocated dialogue, and noted his pleasure
with the USG participation in the Iraq security meeting.
Third, the MFA intends to continue efforts to advance Iranian
civil society and stimulate media diversity.

6. (S) Responding to Geerts' queries about a second UN
Security Council resolution, Wooster said it was important to
demystify what the resolution and other diplomatic actions
such as financial measures were intended to accomplish, which
is to bring the Iranians back to the negotiating table.
Thus, the P5 plus 1 package remains on the table.

7. (S) Geerts said the proposed elements of a second
resolution are clear and make sense, and the Dutch support
efforts at negotiations, citing North Korea as an example
where peaceful pressure can work. He said the MFA would
support additional sanctions under four conditions: that they
are targeted against institutions to really make a
THE HAGUE 00000566 002 OF 004
difference, and not broadly applied to hurt the Iranian
people, and that they are gradual, proportional, and
reversible. On specifics, Geerts predicted new Dutch Foreign
Minister Maxime Verhagen would concur with the travel ban.
He added the Dutch would support the arms sales ban,
financial restrictions, if they are specific, and export
credit restrictions, if they are applied collectively. On
the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Geerts stressed
the importance of keeping Russia and China on board and
praised U.S. efforts at doing so.

Levey Calls for Broader Reading of UNSCR 1737

8. (C) U/S Levey called on the Dutch to take a fair
reading of UNSCR 1737 in two ways. First, he encouraged
taking action against the IRGC, whose Chief Commander --
General Safavi -- is designated under the UNSCR. U/S Levey
said the EU should take action against companies controlled
by the IRGC to give UNSCR 1737 real effect. He provided a
list to MFA and MOF officials. U/S Levey encouraged the GONL
to see if banks were aware that these organizations were
IRGC-controlled. Second, U/S Levey advocated for a greater
focus on UNSCR 1737 paragraph 6, which seeks to ensure
financial services are not provided to support Iran's nuclear
and missile programs. Financial services should be
interpreted to include transactions and letters of credit,
U/S Levey said, stressing that governments should encourage
financial institutions to deny services unless they are
sure that the recipient is not aiding Iran's nuclear or
missile programs. Furthermore, if any Iranian entity is found
trying to acquire WMD items, then all financial support
should be withheld from that entity, he added.

9. (C) In response to U/S Levey's call for a fair reading
of UNSCR 1737, Geerts outlined recent Dutch and EU efforts.
The EU released a Common Position in February, and he
expected implementing regulations to be finalized the week of
March 12. The Dutch, he added, have already implemented
national measures, including financial sanctions and a visa
policy preventing Iranians from studying
proliferation-sensitive subjects. MFA official Sitte Noland
said starting in summer 2006, the EU began requiring export
licenses for products sold to Iran that could be used for the
WMD program. If there is any doubt that the product will
be used for peaceful purposes, the export license is denied
and the products held. To address re-exports and shipments
using secondary routes to avoid detection, the GONL works
with other transit hubs -- such as those in the UAE and
Malaysia -- to share customs information, she added.

10. (C) Geerts said he expected Foreign Minister Verhagen
to pressure Iran in the area of human rights, starting with
Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki at the next Human Rights
Council in Geneva. Verhagen recently extended spending to 15
million euros -- allocated through NGOs -- to support Iranian
civil society and alternative media sources, Geerts said.
Verhagen will also put Iran high on the agenda when he
meets Secretary Rice on April 2, he added.

Dutch on Shell: Keep Playing Field Level

11. (C) Geerts told U/S Levey any measures to sanction
companies with business ties to Iran should be comprehensive
in order to maintain a level playing field. The GONL
maintains regular contact with Shell, he added, so the
company is informed and considers consequences before making
a decision.

MOF asks for Practical Iran Measures

12. (C) At a subsequent meeting with Bernard ter Haar,
Deputy Treasurer General and Director of the Financial
Markets Policy Directorate, U/S Levey said the Wolfsburg
Group -- an independent group of major banks advising on
financial best practices -- is voluntarily developing
THE HAGUE 00000566 003 OF 004
recommendations regarding the use of cover payments. These
best practices will include a recommendation that the
underlying beneficiary be identified in all transactions.
U/S Levey said that banks have found that Iran asks for the
underlying data to be stripped off transactions, as a matter
of course, and the Wolfsburg initiative is a private-sector
effort to increase the transparency of the international
financial system and to protect responsible financial
institutions. Ter Haar agreed identifying names was
important, but said solutions should consider administrative
burden and carefully weigh costs and benefits.

13. (C) U/S Levey noted that countries should use paragraph
6 of UNSCR 1737 to take action against entities supporting
Iran's nuclear or missile programs - even if they are not
listed in the annex. However, the MOF opined that the
paragraph was too vague and that a broader interpretation
would require governments to provide specific names and
identifiers in order to implement. They also suggested that
there should be a globally shared definition of broader
interpretation. U/S Levey suggested issuing an advisory --
at either the national or EU level -- that encouraged banks
to exercise vigilance and to avoid business with
questionable entities. U/S Levey said an advisory would be a
very powerful message. He noted that avoiding business is
a much less aggressive approach than accepting it and
freezing assets later.

--------------------------------------------- --------------
Export Credit Policy: No Transactions Over 25 Million Euros
--------------------------------------------- --------------

14. (C) Maarten Masselink, Policy Officer, International
Financial Relations Directorate and responsible for export
credits, said the GONL has a very restrictive policy on
Iran. MOF assesses every Iran-related transaction, and
current policy is to refuse transactions over 25 million
euros. In the past, Masselink added, the GONL has provided
export credits for harbor dredging equipment, where the Dutch
are global leaders, and a cookie factory. U/S Levey welcomed
these measures, noting export credits distort the market and
that the U.S. is shouldering the burden because it has no
business in Iran.

ABN Amro Cuts Off All Business with Iran

15. (C) During a meeting with Rijkman Groenink, Chairman of
the Managing Board, and ABN Amro's senior compliance
officers, Groenink told U/S Levey that ABN Amro is ceasing
all business with Iran and will not process U-turn
transactions for any Iranian bank. According to Carin
Gorter, Senior Vice President Compliance and Legal, ABN Amro
has closed all but 16 Iran-related accounts, and that these
will be closed in a few months. Groenink said that ABN
Amro's policy will exclude Iranian government persons and
entities and it deliberately excludes all Iranian people
because of the deceptive practices of their regime. He
explained their reasoning for cutting off trade in all
currencies by noting, there isn't a difference in terms of
risk between trade in Dollars and trade in Euros. At some
point, you have to make a decision based on your own moral
judgement. Regarding UNSCR 1737 implementation, the bank is
waiting for guidance from the EU, but has already begun to
filter and reject any questionable transactions. According
to Gorter, when an Iranian transaction is submitted, the bank
reaches out to the local government with jurisdiction over
the transaction. If that government gives them permission to
freeze, then the money is frozen. If the government does not
authorize a freeze, then the transaction is rejected.

16. (C) U/S Levey complimented Groenink for ABN Amro's
efforts. U/S Levey stressed the importance of financial
sector participation in countering proliferation, since --
unlike terrorism finance -- it is more often the case that
proliferators use banks to move and store money (since
proliferators typically engage in ostensibly legitimate
commercial transactions). He added that these bank meetings
were consultative, not regulatory, in nature and inquired
about the reaction of Dutch customers to denied Iran
THE HAGUE 00000566 004 OF 004
business. Groenink said it is not difficult to explain,
and that the policy also applies to Syria and Sudan, for
example. It is a small problem, he added, as customers face
exposing their interests in Iran by seeking financial
services from ABN Amro.

17. (C) Groenink said that the 2005 cease and desist order
and fine from U.S. regulators and the Dutch Central Bank was
a shock to the system. (NOTE: In 2005, Treasury and the
Federal Reserve fined ABN Amro $80 million for a series of
banking violations, including failing to adequately report
suspicious transactions and knowingly deleting originator
information from Iranian and Libyan transactions bound for
the U.S. END NOTE.) This led to large investments in global
filtering, information technology, and increasing awareness
among employees. As a result of these changes, Groenink said
ABN Amro is now fully OFAC compliant worldwide and has
adopted a strict policy against cover payments.

18. (U) Dutch-founded ABN Amro has 105,000 employees. It is
the eighth largest bank in Europe and the thirteenth largest
in the world based on total assets.

ING Cuts Off Dollar Business with Iran

19. (C) In a separate meeting with ING compliance officers
and their general council, U/S Levey said that Iran engages
in three categories of deceptive practices. First, Iran uses
its state-owned banks to hide its illicit activities. For
example, Iran funnels funds through Bank Saderat to Hizbollah
and uses Bank Sepah for missile proliferation. Second, Iran
uses front companies to procure items for its nuclear missile
programs. Third, Iran uses cover payments to obscure
transactions when there is no good, legitimate reason to do
so. U/S Levey encouraged ING to carefully evaluate the risk
of business with Iran. He pointed out that the reputational
risk to the bank is the same, regardless of the currency of
the transaction.

20. (C) ING's Deputy Chief Risk Officer, Koos Timmermans,
told U/S Levey ING opposes cover payments, and thought that a
new SWIFT field could address complications such as chain
payments that cross international boundaries. He added ING
has less than a basis point of business in Iran, there is
no retail business, and ING has no branch office in the
country. The remaining business is based on contractual
obligations with customers having global export operations,
he said. ING is also not actively seeking Iran business.
He added ING would be reluctant to step into the Iranian
market if all other banks were departing, and that ING's
compliance department was carefully involved in monitoring
the risks of Iran business, including reputational risk.
Timmermans said ING had blocked all accounts with Bank Sepah.
Jan-Willem Vink, ING General Counsel, said by policy ING
allows no dollar transactions, with non-dollar transactions
subject to restrictions.

21. (U) Dutch origin ING has 120,000 employees and is
ranked among the top 20 banks worldwide and top 10 in Europe
based on market capitalization.

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