BNP’s Teheran office can stay open for a little longer. Read more »

As may have heard, BNP Paribas is probably going to write a check for something in the range of $8 billion to $10 billion in order to settle allegations that it violated U.S. sanctions against Iran, Sudan, and a few other places. And while a couple billion or so to make allegations of wrongdoing go away would be but pocket change (and has historically been regarded as no big deal to banks forking over that amount to, say, stop being the poster child for massive tax fraud), senior executives at BNP are actually starting to think 8 or so billion dollars is kind of a lot of money. Read more »

It could just be a start for doing business with two-thirds of the Axis of Evil plus Gaddafi’s Libya, but BNP Paribas is putting $1.1 billion under the mattress for the inevitable very rainy day. Read more »

Standard Chartered Plc has agreed to pay $340 million to settle allegations that it hid transactions with Iran from regulators, the New York Department of Financial Services said on Tuesday. In addition to the civil penalty, the bank agreed to install a monitor for at least two years to evaluate the bank’s money-laundering risk controls in its New York branch, the department said in a statement. [Reuters]

When I was a little girl, my father told me a bedtime story. It seems that after the destruction of the VFK ball-bearing plant in Schweinfurt in 1943, when Germany suffered severe shortages of ball-bearings (a critical war making commodity), a huge storm washed up a large freighter filled with high-quality Swedish ball-bearings. The Swedes made the best, it seems, and their neutrality allowed them to trade with Germany- and hold out war-time prices for their goods.
Excited, the Germans immediately seized the bearings and sent them to various factories supplying the German war machine. So significant was the find, the Captain who’s unit discovered the cache was decorated by Hitler personally. Of course, this was all a clever ruse. Some clever OSS agent had thrown together the plan as a follow-up to the Schweinfurt raid to cause a massive shipment of subtly imbalanced bearings to be beached on German controlled shores. The impact on post 1943 equipment should be predictable for anyone who knows even a little about engineering. Modern examples of what amount to economic warfare are equally entertaining. So tell me that the CIA is not behind the massive influx of the modern, cultural equivalent of imbalanced ball-bearings to Iran. That would be, of course, Barbie.
“The irregular importation of such toys, which unfortunately arrive through unofficial sources and smuggling, is destructive culturally and a social danger,” according to Prosecutor General Ghorban Ali Dori Najafabadi of Iran. “Undoubtedly, the personality and identity of the new generation and our children, as a result of unrestricted importation of toys, has been put at risk and caused irreparable damages.”
Well, I suppose that depends on the generation of Barbie that has been sent to Iran. Was it realistic-body-type multi-cultural Barbie? Or was it 1987 Barbie? If the former, then the Mullahs are, to put it mildly, fucked.
According to CNN, this is not a new crisis, and Iran has launched more than one cultural counter-offensive over the years.

Also in 2002, Iran introduced its own competing dolls — the twins Dara and Sara — who were designed to promote traditional values with their modest clothing and pro-family stories. But the dolls proved unable to stem the Barbie tide.

Imagine that.
Now if only they had made Ken anatomically correct. Or, perhaps, even a bit augmented.
I love free trade.
Iranian Official Calls Barbie “Destructive” [CNN]