Treasury appointment gives huge tax break to Goldman Sachs CEO

Section:

By Kenneth R. Timmerman
Newsmax.com
Wednesday, June 7, 2006

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2006/6/6/151138.shtml?s=lh

WASHINGTON -- Iranians are going for the gold -- at least until
someone else cuts them off.

To forestall an effort by the West to seize Iranian assets in
Europe, the Iranian leadership decided last fall to begin a massive,
secret repatriation of its international currency reserves,
according to Central Bank of Iran documents.

The documents were obtained by an Iranian opposition group and
shared with Newsmax.

The documents detail eight shipments in chartered jumbo jets from
Zurich's Kloten airport. The shipments, from October through late
November, brought 250 tons of gold bullion from the vaults of Swiss
banks to Tehran.

The gold was purchased by Bank Markazi (the Central Bank of Iran)
from Credit Suisse in Zurich, the documents showed.

Three of the eight flights attracted the attention of amateur
aircraft spotters, because the planes were painted in the
distinctive livery of Iran Air, which rarely flies into Zurich.

The spotters noted a 747-200 at the airport on Oct. 24, 2005, and an
Airbus A-300 that made two rotations, on Nov. 14 and Nov. 23. They
provided that information to Jetstream, a glossy, German-language
monthly published in Zurich.

Other chartered aircraft handled five additional rotations, before
word of the shipments leaked out. Each plane transported between 28-
35 tons of gold, although the 747-200, initially designed as a
freighter, could have taken as much as 100 tons of cargo, according
to Boeing.

Iran's leadership wanted to purchase 700 tons of gold, according to
the Organization of the People's Fedaii Guerillas of Iran (OPFGI), a
communist opposition group that obtained the Central Bank documents.

However, their secret effort to convert Iran's foreign currency
holdings into gold appears to have stopped when word leaked out
earlier this year.

The gold is now being held in the vaults of the Bank Markazi in
Tehran, the group said.

A Credit Suisse spokesman, Andres Luther, told Newsmax by phone from
Zurich that it was bank policy not to comment on its clients.
However, if the bank had shipped gold to Iran last autumn, "I can
assure you that we fulfilled all the reporting requirements the
state demands of us."

Credit Suisse, Switzerland's second largest bank, announced on Jan.
23 that it would no longer accept new business in Iran or Syria. Mr.
Luther said the bank's decision was not in response to U.S.
pressure, as previously reported.

"We made this decision on our own after looking at developments in
the region and assessing the increased economic risks for our bank
and for our clients of doing business in Iran," he said.

The asset repatriation plan was set into motion just weeks after
former Revolutionary Guards officer Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took over as
president of the Islamic Republic of Iran last August.

The decision was made during a strategic planning session of top
regime leaders in Tehran, who were examining Iran's options in the
nuclear face-off with the West.

The meeting was chaired by Supreme Leader ayatollah Ali Khamenei,
and included top intelligence officials, strategists and former
president Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, the so-called "moderate"
that Ahmadinejad beat in the presidential run-off election in the
summer.

According to minutes of the meeting, obtained by the OPFGI, the
regime leaders concluded that the Bush administration had been
weakened by the war in Iraq, and needed Iran's help if it wanted to
withdraw from Iraq.

They also concluded that the decision of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
to leave the Likud party and create a new center-left coalition had
weakened Israel.

Iran's leaders surveyed their own allies around the world -- in
particular, terrorist groups -- and felt confident in their ability
to inflict severe pain on the United States and Israel, if necessary.

"The minutes mentioned, by name, Lebanon's Hezbollah, Hamas,
Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as Ansar al Islam, Jeish
Mohammad, Jeish al Mehdi, and the Sepah al-Badr as Islamic Republic
allies," an OPFGI spokesman told Newsmax.

U.S. news accounts refer to "Jeish al Mehdi" as the "Mehdi Army,"
the milita controlled by renegade Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The
Badr Army (or Badr Brigade) is controlled by the Iraqi Dawa party.

Both militias receive extensive support from Iran.

The minutes also mentioned as Iranian allies Saudi Shiite
organizations, and Muslim radicals in Afghanistan and Thailand, the
OPFGI said.

After making this world tour, the Iranian leadership determined that
it had little to gain from continuing a dialog with the European
Union over its disputed nuclear programs.
"They felt that Europe was less important than before, and that the
Europeans would be unable to impose any real pain" on Iran should
the regime break off dialog, an OPFGI spokesman told Newsmax by
phone from Europe.

Shortly afterwards, in early September, the International Atomic
Energy Agency found new evidence that Iran had received uranium
enrichment equipment from the black market of Pakistani scientist
A.Q. Khan, and the confrontation between Iran and the international
community over its nuclear program began in earnest.

As a backstop, the leaders decided they should begin to disperse and
repatriate the liquid assets they held overseas, in the unlikely
event the international community decided to impose economic
sanctions on Iran for its nuclear intransigence.

In addition to giving the orders to convert foreign currency
holdings to gold and to repatriate them from Switzerland, the
leaders also gave orders to Iran's central bankers to move cash
accounts from Europe into Arab and Russian banks, which they felt
would be less immune to Western pressure, according to the minutes.

The asset relocation plan became public on Jan. 20, just one day
after French President Jacques Chirac threatened to use French
nuclear weapons against Iran should Tehran launch a major terrorist
attack.

Central Bank governor Ebrahim Sheibani announced on Jan. 21 that his
government had started to shift Iran's overseas holdings from Europe
to countries in southeast Asia.

Commenting on Sheibani's announcement, a State Department spokesman
said the Iranian move was "a sign of Tehran's growing isolation"
over its nuclear program, and was an attempt to protect its assets
should the United Nations impose sanctions on Iran.

Jeffrey Christian, managing director of CPM Group, which tracks the
flow and pricing of gold, told Newsmax that the reports of 250 tons
of gold repatriated to Iran late last year "make sense."

"There has been a tremendous amount of gold going into Iran over the
past eight months," he said. "Some of it belongs to the Central
Bank, but part is to satisfy private investment demand."

Since the first quarter of 2003, he added, "we've seen a broad range
of Middle Easterners buying gold for storage outside the Middle
East, the United States, Europe, or Japan. More people have bought
gold over the past five years than in the entire history of mankind."

The main repositories of these new gold findings, Christian said,
were Australian, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.

The Fedaii organization also alleged that in a separate scheme, pro-
Iranian Shiites in Iraq looted the Iraqi Central Bank and one of
Saddam Hussein's palaces in the immediate aftermath of the 2003 war,
and made off with 200 tons of Swiss-stamped gold bullion.

The Iraqi gold was remelted in Iran, cast into automobile bumpers,
and covered with chrome. Iranian agents drove the cars with the gold
bumpers into Pakistan and Azerbaijan, where they sold the gold to
brokers at a 15 percent discount, the group said.

"Sales of this gold are ongoing," sources at the OPFGI said.

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