BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) – Recent media reports have, for the first time, disclosed US American interference in German business deals with recalcitrant countries. US authorities intervene directly, if German companies carry out financial transactions, for example, with Iran. Repeatedly, Washington has successfully blocked business deals – even though they had been legal in Germany – and had the respective employees and board members fired from their jobs, using the justification that (German) companies with sites in the USA are subject to US law. This also applies to bilateral US sanctions imposed, for example, on Iran. This means that Washington actually succeeds in transposing US domestic law onto other countries, including Germany. The most recent example: Washington is considering a veto on a Chinese company’s taking over Aixtron, a German chip equipment manufacturer. President Obama is expected to announce his decision today, Friday. These US-practices have been disclosed at a time of political transition, as Berlin is reinforcing its efforts to create an EU armed forces, to achieve “strategic autonomy” and become a world power. This arrogant US interference in the German-European economy is a taboo that cannot be tolerated on the road toward the long anticipated “superpower Europe.”
Problems for Business with Iran
US interference has now been disclosed, due to German-Iranian business relations still not booming to the extent expected since the conclusion of the Nuclear Agreement with Teheran on July 14, 2015. This is particularly due to leading German banks continuing to refuse to finance trade and investments in Iran, which would automatically be admissible under the prevailing German and international legal norms, once sanctions were lifted. However, the United States is still maintaining bilateral sanctions. Companies operating within the USA must comply. If they violate US bilateral sanctions, they must expect penalties from Washington. In March 2015 for example, the Commerzbank was compelled to pay US $1.45 billion to US authorities in a settlement, because it had done business with Iran’s state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) between 2002 and 2007. Even though this business had been legal under German and EU laws, they were in violation of US regulations. With measures such as these, Washington actually transposes US domestic law onto foreign countries. German companies have usually grudgingly submit to this arrogance because business with the US promises lucrative profits.
Now, the concrete measures used by Washington have, for the first time, been exposed in detail in articles published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and in televised documentaries of the ARD-Panorama, even drawing upon pertinent examples. One of them involves a former board member of the German Forfait AG, which carries out the sometimes complicated payment processing with foreign clients on behalf of companies in Germany and other EU nations. That former board member was responsible for companies making transactions with Iran. His activities were monitored by the German Bundesbank and found to be completely legal. Nevertheless, the US Treasury Department put him on a black list of persons, suspected of financing terrorism or similar serious felonies. However, US authorities have not furnished evidence backing up these heavy incriminations, which have allegedly caused the German Forfait AG damages of 150 to 200 million Euros. The German company could resume operating unimpaired, only after it had fired its board member, who had been incriminated on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations. He is still being boycotted by German companies, which refuse him transport services – such as the Schenker AG – because he is on the US Treasury Department’s black list.
“With him? Rather not”
These recent reports of US intrusions are coming at a transitional period. Around eleven years ago, there were hardly any consequences, when the CIA’s global abductions and torture of suspects – and German state agencies’ participation – became known. Berlin covered for Washington, also to conceal its own actions. When the scandalous NSA eavesdropping methods came to light, a little over three years ago, Berlin sought to cover up German participation, while distancing itself, for the first time, from Washington (“eavesdropping on friends, that is intolerable!”) and proceeded to systematically enhance the capabilities of its own intelligence services – with the long-range objective of becoming independent of the United States. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) The German government is currently in the midst of a campaign aimed at developing a powerful EU armed forces, which should achieve its “strategic autonomy” and thereby, for the first time, its genuine independence from the USA. US interference in the German economy, of course, runs diametrically counter to this independence. The German government has yet to state its position, concerning the media reports on the US interference with the German Forfait AG and the Commerzbank. In the course of becoming “superpower Europe” (Federica Mogherini), the thought that such intrusions would officially or, at least, through diplomatic channels not be tolerated, since they have now been made public, can be expected.