Where is U.S. Foreign policy drafted? In think-tanks, billionaires, political friends and business alliances? WTF
(Tikun Olam) – The New York Times reports a blockbuster story about the anti-Iran lobby group, United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI). It’s an especially perfidious group supporting regime change, though it couches its approach in terms of opposing Iran’ nuclear program. Curiously, this is precisely the same way Israel’s far-right government disguises its own support for the violent overthrow of the Iranian government. Knowing that such a plan is not supported by the west including the Obama administration, they believe that they can paint Iran as enough of a threat to the world through it’s alleged plans to create nuclear weapons, that this will get them half-way to regime change.
UANI specializes in “outing” companies which allegedly violate UN sanctions against Iran. The Times article revealed that the companies are usually approached by an Israeli “fixer” with close ties to the Mossad. He’s Rami Ungar, owner of an Israeli company, Ray Shipping, who’s worth $500-million.
Ungar gives them an opportunity to renounce their supposed trade with Iran. Sometimes they’re extorted for a donation to UANI as well. Though the article doesn’t mention it, I’m certain that the Mossad intermediary probes for companies that will serve Israel’s interests in its fight against Iran. Companies doing business with Iran who are willing to become Mossad assets are worth their weight in gold, since the Iranians trust them and Israel can use such trust to sabotage whatever aspect of the Iranian military or commercial interests the sanctions-buster participates in.
(Pakistan Defense Forum) – Mark D. Wallace, chief executive of United Against Nuclear Iran and a former Bush administration official, also would not discuss it. In court documents, the group’s lawyers call Mr. Restis’s lawsuit “little more than a thinly veiled effort to silence a U.S. organization’s efforts to prevent business transactions with Iran and thwart Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons.”
Founded in 2008, United Against Nuclear Iran is run and advised by a long list of former government officials. Its advisers include Joseph I. Lieberman, the former Democratic senator from Connecticut; Francis Townsend, the former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush; Dennis B. Ross, a former Middle East adviser to both Republican and Democratic presidents; and former intelligence chiefs from Israel, Germany and Britain.
“It is not clear what the government believes it risks from the revelation of the group’s donor list and internal documents. According to the Times, the government is prohibited from secretly working with non-government groups to influence public opinion.
Among others, Restis wants to subpoena Meir Dagan, a former chief of the Israeli Mossad spy agency who is an adviser to the group, and Rami Ungar, an Israeli businessman Restis claims approached him on behalf of backers of United Against Nuclear Iran in order to settle the case.”
With about $1.7 million a year in donations, the group has lobbied Congress and helped draft legislation. But it is best known for its “name and shame” campaigns, which unearth information about Western companies suspected of doing business with Iran. Using news releases, letters, Facebook and its website, the group pressures them to stop.
Companies frequently respond by cutting ties with Iran. The group has directed letters to Caterpillar, Ingersoll Rand and the accounting firms PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and Ernst & Young. But the response was different last year when Mr. Wallace sent a letter to Mr. Restis, accusing him and his company of being “frontmen for the illicit activities of the Iranian regime.” Mr. Restis sued for defamation in a Manhattan federal court.
The group said it had uncovered a letter proving there was a plan to do business in Iran. It also accused Mr. Restis of using his ships in support of Iran’s oil industry.
Mr. Restis said the letter was fraudulent, the illicit Iranian deal never existed, and his ships made only authorized humanitarian shipments. He accused the group of shaking down companies for donations; the group in turn accused him of being a “master criminal.”
- Testimony of Mark D. Wallace of United Against Nuclear Iran Before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Implementation of the Iran Nuclear Deal [Prepared Statement – pdf]
Later more information about United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), its leadership CEO Mark D. Wallace and its direct backers or more covert links involved.
Continued below the fold …
The Restis group denies the allegations by the US anti-Iran lobbying group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), claiming that none of its ship visits to Iran violated international sanctions because they were carrying humanitarian aid as permitted by the US government.
By Nikolas Leontopoulos and Pavlos Zafiropoulos
(Press Report) – In addition to the Greek prosecution over his financial dealings, Victor Restis is entrenched in a prolonged legal battle with the UANI, an influential advocacy group whose declared aim is “to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons”. UANI had alleged in May 2013 that Enterprises Shipping and Trading (EST), the shipping company of which Mr Restis is chairman, had engaged in business with Iran thus violating international sanctions. UANI subsequently launched what the Restis group calls `a name and shame’ campaign against the Greek shipowner.
In response Mr Restis and his lawyers filed in July 2013 a lawsuit against UANI claiming defamation. Last week a settlement appeared close between the two groups but fell through following the emergence of new evidence that showed (according to UANI) that statements made on behalf of EST that the group had never had any dealings with Iran were not true.
According to correspondence (pdf) between the two groups (disclosed by UANI), three EST cargo ships (Bergen Max, Helvetia One and African Wildcat) have in fact visited Iranian ports in eight instances between March 2012 and as recently as January 2014.
(New Europe) July 22, 2013 – Victor Restis, a Greek entrepreneur and owner of one of the world’s largest shipping businesses, announced today that he has filed a defamation lawsuit against the non-governmental organization United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) and its CEO, Mark D. Wallace, a former United Nations Committee Delegate, for falsely, knowingly and maliciously conducting a global campaign claiming that Restis, Jewish grandson of Holocaust victims, is a “front-man” for the Iranian regime, and that he and his family’s companies, Enterprises Shipping and Trading, S. A. (EST) and First Business Bank, S. A. (FBB) are engaged in illegal business dealings with Iran.
At United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), we are deeply concerned about whether the Geneva Joint Plan of Action (the “Joint Plan” or “Interim Agreement”) will advance U.S. national security and foreign policy goals. While we sincerely hope that a comprehensive and verifiable agreement that rolls back Iran’s nuclear program is reached in 6 months, the prospects appear dim at best.
The Joint Plan has provided disproportionate sanctions relief to Iran, and given that Tehran will not dismantle a single centrifuge, Iran has not rolled back its nuclear infrastructure. With the thousands of centrifuges that it is currently operating and has installed, Iran will retain, even if it abides by the full terms of the agreement, the ability to breakout and produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon in as little as 2 months. At the same time, the carefully constructed sanctions architecture developed over decades has been significantly rolled back.
The question today for all of us – members of this committee and all of the Congress – is what would be an acceptable scope and size of Iran’s enrichment program and whether we will permit Iran to operate the heavy water reactor at Arak. Iran claims that its program is peaceful in nature and that it is solely for civilian nuclear energy and medical purposes.
- ○ Escalation Towards Military Strike on Iran’s Nuclear Facilities by Oui on Nov. 7, 2011
○ Bush – Israel – Iran – Going ‘Nucelar’ by Ask on Jan. 7, 2008
I’m doing a search on some more background on the UANI group, from their website a long list of former government officials as its advisers.
From Right-Web – United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI).
Does this match your own observations when an Israeli attack on Iran was a ‘doable’ solution?
Meir Dagan: Israel Attack on Iran `Stupidest Thing I’ve Ever Heard’ | by Richard Silverstein | on May 7, 2011
Mark D. Wallace of United Against Nuclear Iran is CEO of Tigris Financial Group, a private investment firm.
Tigris Financial Group LTD operates as a subsidiary of GRAT Holdings LLC.
Grat Holdings LLC is a Maryland Limited-Liability Company filed on July 21, 2004. The company’s filing status is listed as Active and its File Number is W10114445.
The Electrum Group of Companies is not as transparent as it should be. Bloomberg (as of 26 December 2010) records that “Electrum Strategic Holdings LLC [is] a wholly owned subsidiary of GRAT Holdings LLC…located at 1370 Avenue of the Americas, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10019”.
And, indeed, the two concerns are not only registered at the same address, but a Mr William Natbony is officially designated Chief Executive Officer of GRAT, as well as both Electrum Strategic Holdings and Electrum Strategic Metals LLC. . “GRAT” is an acronym for “grantor retained annuity trust” – a financial instrument, commonly used in the USA, “to make large financial gifts to family members without paying a U.S. gift tax” [wikipedia, accessed 26 December 2010]. It might seem surprising that Electrum would openly advertise its propensity to evade a form of taxation which ordinary citizens could find difficult to avoid.
However, there’s little doubt who stands to benefit from the operations of GRAT in this instance: the man actually controlling Electrum Strategic Holdings and profiting from it, 48-year old Mr Thomas S. Kaplan [$30,400 to RNC on 04/07/10].
Just who is Thomas Kaplan?
Born in the USA, but educated in Switzerland and Britain, as a student Kaplan started analysing Israeli hedge funds [Wall Street Journal 22 May 2010], before moving to New York to begin trading in earnest, and marrying a serving soldier in the Israeli Defence Forces [Dafna Recanati, the daughter of Israeli investor Leon Recanati]. Later, Kaplan set up an investment vehicle called the Tigris fund which has $2bn invested globally, according to the The Wall Street Journal [See also: Forbes Magazine, 21 April 2010].
Litigation lawyer for Wallace and UANI …
Lee Wolosky represents clients in high-profile disputes and investigations, often with an international component. Mr. Wolosky joined the firm in 2001 from the White House, where he served as Director for Transnational Threats on the National Security Council under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush. In that capacity, among other things, he coordinated the U.S. government response to illicit finance impacting national security.
Mr. Wolosky recent matters have included serving as counsel to Sofitel in matters arising out of the alleged assault committed by Dominique Strauss-Kahn; to the former CEO of a major insurance company in multiple matters; to Starr International Company and C.V. Starr & Co., both multi-billion dollar investment companies; to certain of the 9/11 families as international enforcement counsel; to a NYSE-listed company in a multi-billion dispute with the United States; to an international financial institution defending multibillion dollar RMBS claims; to a Gulf- and Europe-based private equity fund in multiple litigations in the United States and Europe; to a major Latin American bank in U.S. matters; to a U.S.-based client defending against the enforcement of a Bahraini judgment; and as lead plaintiff’s counsel in the firm’s litigations against Chiquita Brands International, Inc. and Bank of China Limited.
Mr. Wolosky has also recently represented clients before the U.S. Government, including the Executive Branch and various Congressional committees. He has successfully represented clients in matters before the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and in federal criminal investigations, including investigations conducted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
In 1999, Wolosky left private practice to start a fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations, which was led by Leslie H. Gelb, a former senior official in the Carter administration.
A few months after the Sept. 11 attacks, Wolosky took the Boies Schiller job.
Wolosky helped woo to the firm Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the former chief executive officer and chairman of American International Group Inc. and a friend he met through the Council on Foreign Relations. That relationship has spawned almost 10 years of legal work.
While starting out at Boies Schiller, Wolosky also attended a few conferences at White Oak Plantation, a retreat in Yulee, Florida. The couple dozen foreign-affairs buffs assembled by Gelb debated policy questions during the day and dined together at night, Wolosky says.
Wolosky’s contacts from that era also include U.S. Ambassador to Sweden Mark Brzezinski, the son of Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s national-security adviser.
A month after Kerry lost the election, Wolosky made partner at the firm.
Spelling error in article, should be William Natbony.
Ellen Aguiar v. William Natbony, et al :: Factual Allegations
A. The Trusts and Natbony as Trustee.
11. The Trusts at issue in this litigation, upon information and belief, hold over two billion dollars, almost all of which constitute proceeds of the sale of Leor Exploration and Production LLC (“Leor”), a natural gas exploration company that was founded by Kaplan and Guma in 2003. Natbony and Kaplan were the directors of Leor. Leor was sold in 2007 for over 2.55 billion dollars. Almost all ofthe proceeds were funneled into the Trusts.
- The Trusts are irrevocable Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (commonly referred to as “GRATS”). The Kaplans, in exchange for the broad tax advantages of a GRAT, forfeited their right to manage or otherwise dictate the affairs of the Trusts. However, although the Kaplans received a tax advantage worth tens of millions of dollars, they violated the terms of the Trusts and the rules and regulations of the Internal Revenue Code by retaining and exercising effective control and ownership of the Trusts.
- Plaintiff Aguiar and her issue were named beneficiaries of the Thomas Trust at its inception on April 6, 2004. As such, plaintiff Aguiar and her issue were entitled, at the sole discretion of a disinterested trustee, to receive income and principal after the expiration in 2014 of the Original Trust² term and during the lifetimes of Kaplan or his wife, Dafna. Plaintiff is also a remainder beneficiary in the event the Kaplans and their issue should not survive the Termination of the Thomas Trust.
In 2003, a 26-year-old man arrived in Houston to look for hidden oil and gas reserves. Guma Aguiar had next to no experience in exploration, but he had been dispatched by his uncle, Thomas Kaplan, an Oxford-trained historian turned natural resources investor. Kaplan had a hunch that oil and gas prices would soon skyrocket, and that technological breakthroughs would provide additional opportunities for production, even in a well-explored area like Texas.
In Houston, Aguiar met with John Amoruso, a top-notch geologist, who explained to Aguiar his theory on drilling in the deep Bossier sands of East Texas. Amoruso was convinced large quantities of natural gas could be found there because the sand was thick, the very type of high-pressure formation, Amoruso reasoned, that was conducive to the development of natural gas deposits.
Kaplan set up Leor Energy and installed Aguiar as its CEO, forming a joint venture with Encana, Canada’s biggest natural gas company, and Goldman Sachs. When Encana finally drilled the field it found 2.4 trillion cubic feet of gas and the Canadian company in 2007 bought up all of Leor’s assets in the field for $2.55 billion.