One of Barack Obama’s most senior advisers was paid $100,000 (£64,226) in speaking fees by a branch of a company that does controversial business with the Iranian government.
David Plouffe, a top White House aide who masterminded Mr Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, received the money from a subsidiary of MTN, a South African telecoms firm.
MTN has since 2005 run a major network in Iran jointly with Irancell, a company US diplomats say is owned by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, prompting concerns that its technology may be used to monitor and crack down on dissidents.
Republicans accused Mr Plouffe of taking money from a firm “profiting from the oppressive policies of the Iranian regime”. Congressmen have called for sanctions to block MTN’s Iranian operations.
“David Plouffe may be the biggest loophole in the international community’s sanctions against Iran,” said Kirsten Kukowski, a party spokesman.
The White House rejects any suggestion that Mr Plouffe did anything improper and claim that concerns about MTN’s Iranian operations were not raised until later.
Mr Plouffe was paid for two speeches delivered in Nigeria in December 2010, a month before he stopped working as a private consultant to resume advising Mr Obama.
MTN denies violating any sanctions, while acknowledging that it has met US officials to discuss the issue.
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