When I first started working on this story, one of Sanders’s aides was careful to point out the ABC loans. Later, I took a closer look at the company and found that it was 59% owned by the Central Bank of Libya, which I found very odd, even by the generally insane standards of the bailout era. Why, I wondered, would the Federal Reserve be giving Muammar Qaddafi $26 billion in near-zero interest loans? Exactly how does that address America’s financial problems? What bailout plan could that possibly be part of? It gets weirder from there. Sanders’s office subsequently found out that ABC is not only exempt from Obama’s sanctions, it has two functioning branches here in New York City. In a letter he sent yesterday evening to Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency chief John Walsh (the banking regulator with purview over the New York branches), Sanders put it this way:
‘Why would the U.S. government allow a bank that is predominantly owned by the Central Bank of Libya – an institution on which the U.S. has imposed strict economic sanctions – to operate two banking branches within our own borders?’
Neither the Fed nor Treasury so far has offered explanations for these loans; the Treasury has so far only explained why ABC was not subject to sanctions and pointed to the March 4th order when I contacted them.