Monday, July 16, 2012

Ignore that $11 million pile of cash in the corner

For about a week now there's been a story doing the rounds in the Arabic media that Bahraini customs officials had seized US$11 million in cash being carried by an unidentified American at the country's airport. After various Move Along Folks statements, the government of Bahrain is now out with a complete explanation:

... the Central Bank of Bahrain received a letter on 19 June 2012 from the US Government requesting the entry of the money in order to pay the salaries of US servicemen stationed in Bahrain and other locations in the Gulf ... Typically, such amounts enter Bahrain through an authorized money exchange office. On 12 July 2012, the American Embassy still had not received approval for the entry of the money. Embassy officials contacted the Foreign Ministry to notify them that the money was scheduled to arrive on a military airplane that was to land in an allocated military zone at the Bahrain International Airport.When the carriers of the money arrived they notified customs officials that they were carrying $11 million. The customs officials asked them to provide all of the documents and identifications related to the transfer. The money was held by the customs agents until entry approval was obtained by the Foreign Ministry. Once approval was received and all proper procedures had been followed, the money was released to the carriers.

Well, OK, but ... Bahrain has banks and currency exchanges and its currency is pegged to the dollar so it's not like there's some difficulty in wiring $11 million to the country. So why the need for cash? Lots of it. In the Gulf. A hop, skip, and jump from Iran and pirates and al Qaeda and all sorts of other stuff.

Nope, nothing to see here folks.