Bruce Poliquin seeks to unmask finances of Iran’s top leaders

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U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin speaks Saturday at the christening of the USS Thomas Hudner at Bath Iron Works.

With a more sympathetic occupant in the White House, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin is trying again to shine a light on the assets held by many of the leaders in Iran.

The Maine Republican has often castigated Iran, calling it “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism” last month when he hailed President Donald Trump’s decision to issue new sanctions on the regime.

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The Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act that Poliquin introduced recently continues his effort to have the Treasury Department come up with a list of the money and assets held by top Iranian politicians and military leaders.

In the past, Poliquin has said that Iran’s “top government leadership, including the Supreme Leader and the military and political leaders, have amassed substantial wealth from their tyrannical rule of their people.”

The 2nd District congressman has pointed to charges that these funds “are being used to support and sponsor terrorism.”

A similar bill from Poliquin passed the House last year, though U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Maine Democrat, opposed it. The measure stalled in the Senate after President Barack Obama threatened to veto it.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., blasted it in September as “nothing more than another attempt by Republicans to undermine the historic agreement the United States worked so hard to achieve to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.”

“Preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is a big deal. I am sorry my colleagues on the other side of the aisle don’t share that view, but it is a big deal. The world will be safer with a nuclear-free Iran,” he said.

Trump, however, has said the nuclear deal with Iran should be thrown out.

Poliquin’s bill calls for the Treasury to report within 270 days of the measure’s enactment — and then at least annually for two more years — a range of information about funds and assets held in U.S. and foreign financial institutions under the direct or indirect control of a long list of Iranian leaders.

The unclassified parts of the report are supposed to be put online in English, Farsi, Arabic and Azeri to ensure that people in and near Iran might be able to access the information provided.

U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said last fall “the bill will not only help make Iran’s citizens more aware of how corrupt their government is, the reporting requirements may help to shed additional light on the ways Iran’s Revolutionary Guard funds terrorism.”

Poliquin is a member of the Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing that issued a report in December laying out its concerns about the financing of terrorism by Iran and others.

The measure has been referred to the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

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