House chairman wants deeper penalties for JPMorgan

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Friday she was glad to see the Treasury Department fine JPMorgan Chase for violating sanctions placed on Iran, Cuba, Sudan and Liberia, but said harsher measures should also be taken.

Treasury announced on Thursday that it had reached a settlement with JPMorgan Chase bank and that it would pay a $88.5 million fine for facilitating hundreds of wire transfers to Cuba, a loan involving an Iranian ship and other "egregious" transactions.

“The revelation that J.P Morgan facilitated transactions for rogue regimes in violation of U.S. sanctions is shameful. These regimes kill their own people, and some of them sponsor violent extremism and pursue nuclear, unconventional and ballistic missile capabilities. Yet, J.P. Morgan turned a blind eye to these offenses," she said.

"Additionally, harsher measures should be taken. The repeated disregard of sanctions by several banks is indicative of the fact that existing financial penalties are insufficient to deter their illegal and immoral activities in support of cruel dictatorships," she added.

A House aide said those harsher measures could include stiffer fines and perhaps even criminal penalties.
Ros-Lehtinen is a fierce critic of the regimes in Iran and Cuba, and has opposed Obama administration attempts to expand travel and trade with Cuba. Her Florida district has many refugees from Cuba's Castro regime.

Ros-Lehtinen has also been fighting for years for stronger Iran sanctions to be implemented. While U.S. administrations have been relatively consistent in barring Iran from most direct trade with the U.S., they have been reluctant to punish foreign companies not located here for doing business with Iran, for fear of alienating allies.