AB 978 latest in ongoing Blumenfield efforts to ensure states do their part to enforce Iran sanctions.
SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown yesterday signed legislation authored by now Los Angeles City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield to ensure that state-chartered banks and credit unions are not being used, either directly or indirectly, to funnel money to terrorist groups or the Government of Iran.
Supported by the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California, Assembly Bill (AB) 978, authored by Blumenfield during his time in the Assembly, passed with overwhelming majorities in both the Assembly and Senate.
“Iran’s continued resistance to international cooperation jeopardizes regional stability and ongoing efforts to achieve Middle-East peace. It is crucial that state and local entities do their part to ensure that sanctions are properly enforced,” said Blumenfield. “Yesterday’s action by the Governor sends a clear message that California—the ninth largest economy in the world—will not tolerate efforts by this Iranian regime to achieve nuclear weapons capabilities.”
Blumenfield’s legislation creates oversight mechanisms to ensure that state-licensed financial institutions have appropriate policies and procedures to prevent the maintenance and opening of accounts with foreign financial institutions that illegally assist Iran. Any violations would be met with fines and must be reported to the U.S. Treasury Department for prosecution.
Last year, the New York State Department of Financial Services discovered that Standard Chartered Bank had a number of transactions with Iran for nearly a decade. Some reports calculated 60,000 transactions worth $250 billion.
Financial transactions between U.S. and Iranian financial institutions are generally prohibited. In some cases, fund transfers through third-country banks are permitted for family remittances, travel-related remittances, and transactions authorized by the U.S. Treasury Department. Americans are prohibited from engaging in any transactions with banks OFAC has identified for their involvement in the financing of either weapons of mass destruction or terrorism.
As an Assemblymember, Blumenfield was a recognized leader in efforts to curtail California’s financial ties with Iran. In 2012, he authored AB 2160 to prohibit California-based insurance companies from scoring as assets any investments in companies with ties to Iran’s energy sector on documents filed with the Department of Insurance that demonstrate financial solvency and, therefore, the ability to provide insurance in California. In 2011, he authored AB 1151 to increase transparency on California’s largest public pension funds as they divest from Iran. In 2010, he authored AB 1650 to prohibit the state and local governments from pursuing contracts with companies that do business in Iran’s energy sector. AB 1650 has become a model now being replicated in states across the country.
“Whether at the federal or state level, or here in the City of Los Angeles, I have always worked to ensure that our local governments are doing their part to keep pressure on the Iranian regime, and I thank Governor Brown for being a strong ally of that effort,” concluded Blumenfield.