Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump conducted business with an Iranian bank later linked to terrorism and Iran’s nuclear program, NBC News reported Monday, quoting an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
According to the ICIJ, Iran’s Bank Melli rented office space in New York from Trump’s real estate company between 1998-2003, possibly paying the businessman’s organization over half a million dollars a year.
Trump reportedly inherited the bank as a tenant when he bought the General Motors Building in Manhattan.
A US embargo in effect since 1995 forbade companies from doing business with Iranian banks, including accepting rent. However, authorities did grant exemptions to certain transactions, and it was unclear whether Bank Melli was subject to such an exemption, as Treasury records were not publicly available.
In 2007 US authorities accused Bank Melli of being ties to purchases for Iran’s nuclear program. It ws also used to send at least $100 million to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, who sponsor terror through aid to Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as the Taliban.
Bank Melli and the Trump organization did not comment on the report.
Trump has painted himself as a candidate who would be tough on Iran. He has called the US accord with Iran to curtail its nuclear ambitions “disastrous.”
“It’s a pretty hypocritical position to take,” Richard Nephew, a former deputy coordinator of sanctions policy at State Department, told the ICIJ. “It suggests that his principles are pretty flexible when it comes to him getting paid.”
Last month Trump called the deal “one of the worst negotiated deals I have ever seen.” The accord, he said, would lead to Israel’s destruction, “unless I get elected. Then Israel will be just fine.”