The US Government has declined to say whether it intends to investigate Transport for London’s contractors after TfL agreed to a trade embargo against the state of Israel.
The effect of the clause was make TfL subservient to the foreign policy of the UAE Government, the Middle East dictatorship which ultimately owns Emirates.
The clause, first reported by MayorWatch, provoked international headlines and was condemned by a number of Israeli groups.
After news of the clause broke, a “furious” Mayor Boris Johnson labelled the clause as “plainly inappropriate”. The Mayor also ordered officials to renegotiate the contract, ensuring all references to UAE foreign policy were removed from the document.
Questioned by the London Assembly, TfL’s own in-house lawyer admitted: “The connotations of that drafting were not spotted”.
Despite that admission and the Mayor’s criticisms, TfL bosses continue to refuse to apologise and blame critics for “misunderstanding” the contract’s original wording.
Speaking in July, London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore warned the original contract could have placed TfL’s contractors in violation of US trade rules.
The US Export Administration Act forbids any US based operation from doing business with any other entity that has agreed to boycott Israel. This means US companies or those who have operations in the US which have traded with TfL during the period covered by the Emirates contract could be in breach of US law.
Responding to a letter from Mr Dismore, the US Department of Commerce confirmed that “antiboycott provisions prohibit U.S. businesses from participating in unsanctioned foreign boycotts of countries friendly to the United States.”
However the Department declined to reveal whether it has launched any investigation into TfL’s contractors.
The Department told Mr Dismore: “It is not the policy or practice of the Bureau of Industry and Security to comment on whether a given individual or group is, or has been, the subject of such an investigation.”