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'German firms finance world champ in Holocaust denial'
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JPOST CORRESPONDENT
05/04/2011
Merkel administration tells 'Post' “Iran sanctions will be discussed with Netanyahu"; German Jewish leader slams Iran funding.
 
BERLIN – The new president of Germany’s 105,000-member Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, launched on Monday a withering attack on German companies, the Merkel administration and the country’s central bank for their continued business deals with an Iranian regime that denies the Holocaust and supports terror groups.

“That far too many German firms continue unimpeded to conduct their repugnant business with the Iranian terror regime – the reigning world champion in Holocaust denial – is unfortunately a fact, and continues to be a crying shame,” said Dr. Dieter Graumann, in the Germany daily the- Handelsblatt.

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Newspaper: 'German gov't, Iranian bank EIH circumvent sanctions'

In sharp terms, he criticized the Merkel Administration for failing to include the EIH – the Hamburgbased European-Iranian trade bank – in the EU sanctions list against Iran.

The US Treasury Department deemed the EIH as one of the most important financial conduits in Europe for Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. The Obama Administration has also sanctioned the EIH.

According to a Handelsblatt article on Tuesday, Merkel stopped EIH’s future (and the Bundesbank) processing of India’s Iranian oil crude payments, but did not pull the plug on the EIH financial operation, which continues to operate in Hamburg.

A Merkel Administration spokesperson wrote to The Jerusalem Post on Monday, saying it is “likely that in the discussion between the Federal Chancellor and Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu Iran will also be a topic and, if necessary, the implementation of Iran sanctions.”

The Indian oil payments working their way through the German financial system total 9 billion euros, and Germany’s Bundesbank has already reportedly transferred billions to Iran.

Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are slated to meet on Thursday in Berlin.When asked if the the Merkel Administration will close the EIH, her spokeswoman told the Post that the EU does not bar transactions with the EIH because it is not included on the EU sanctions list.

However, Gerhard Schick, the financial spokesman for the powerful opposition Green Party, said Monday in the Handelsblatt: “Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Economics Minister Brüderle must as fast as possible make sure that the EIH is finally in the EU sanctions list.”

Merkel and Westerwelle have resisted the inclusion of the EIH in the EU sanctions list during last year’s EU Iran sanctions negotiations.

Additionally, Westerwelle’s apparent approval of billions of euros in Iranian crude oil payments via the Hamburg-based EIH, has also raised troubling concerns from the US Treasury Department.

Graumann said, “This bank should not be in the German banking world, this bank should be prohibited. It has long been known that this institute is an instrument and henchman of the Tehran regime, which provides the fanatic mullahs there with significant financial means – with which they in turn finance hatred, terror, death and the nuclear program there.”

An Israeli diplomat in Berlin told the Post that the Israeli government took notice of the EIH scandal, and the matter is being seriously discussed in the Foreign Ministry. Yinam Cohen, an Israeli Embassy spokesman in Berlin, told the Post last week that the EIH bank operation ought to be shut down.

Graumann lamented that the German authorities have “persistently refused” to include the EIH on the EU sanctions list.

“If this attitude were now finally going to be corrected in Germany, that would be more than appropriate,” said Graumann in the Handelsblatt. “And that the German Bundesbank itself, which for me personally is still almost sacrosanct, would stoop to concealing or promoting business with this vicious regime – that I simply cannot believe. The federal government should quickly and comprehensively explain what it has done, and has not done.”

In the e-mail on Monday to the Post, the spokeswoman for Chancellor Merkel wrote, “Cooperation with Mr. Graumann is good and trustworthy. He advocates for Jewish life in Germany with passion and great dedication, and has gained great respect and broad sympathy. On the subject of sanctions, the federal government was significantly involved in the establishment of the Iran sanctions and implements the sanctions comprehensively and strictly.”

Asked about Graumann’s criticism of the Bundesbank, Magnus Mäkelä, a spokesman for Bundesbank, stated, “The question whether specific goods are relevant to proliferation is determined by the responsible authorities in the federal government. Oil deliveries to India are classed as not relevant to proliferation.”
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