December 04, 2006

Wyden Seeks to Expose Ongoing Corporate Investment in Iran

Senator's legislation would let American investors know which companies still do energy business with one of the world's most brutal regimes

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today outlined planned legislation to publicize information about American and foreign companies that continue to do business with Iran's energy sector. Wyden's legislation, "The Investor in Iran Accountability Act," seeks to curb corporate energy investment in Iran, one of the world's most dangerous and tyrannical nations, and to help the American public make informed choices about investing with companies still doing business there. The bill would make public information about companies that aid the Iranian regime by investing in oil or nuclear energy. "Iran stands head and shoulders above the rest for its record of brutality towards its own people and hostility toward its neighbors. And, the Iranian regime has made no secret of its desire to attract billions of dollars worth of foreign investment, particularly to the energy sector," said Wyden. "This bill will give our government and American stockholders a powerful tool by holding companies publicly accountable when they give crucial financial assistance to this regime." The U.S. opposes the Iranian government's nuclear weapons ambitions, its support for Islamic extremism, its interference in Iraq and its many human rights violations. Oil exports alone account for almost half the Iranian government's budget, and 80 percent of Iran's export earnings overall. Although nearly all U.S. energy companies stopped dealing with Iran when President Clinton imposed sanctions against the regime in l995, subsidiaries of several companies continue to invest there. Wyden feels that Americans have a right to know which companies are profiting from and contributing to the Iranian government's activities. One of the most effective tools in the fight against apartheid in South Africa was arming the public with information about which companies were doing business there. The subsequent movement by American shareholders to divest themselves from South African holdings helped end apartheid. Specifically, Wyden's legislation would: · Require the Treasury Department to publish a list of those foreign companies that do business with Iran's energy interests and continually update that list; · Require the Treasury Department to publish a list of all public and private U.S. financial interests that hold more than $100,000-worth of investment in these companies. This will give American investors, for the first time, an idea of those U.S. pension and retirement plans, mutual funds and other financial instruments that hold investments in these companies. · Direct the President to negotiate an end to foreign investment in Iran's energy sector with the appropriate foreign governments.