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Why Was an Iranian Official Found with Millions in Venezuelan Money?
Posted By Yvette Betance On February 15, 2013 @ 10:23 am In International | Comments Disabled
On January 21 , German authorities at Dusseldorf Airport discovered a check for 300 million bolivars (about $70 million) in the luggage of Tahmasb Mazaheri, Iran’s former central bank chief from 2007 to 2008, as he arrived from Turkey. The check was drawn from the Bank of Venezuela.
When asked about it, Mazaheri claimed it was issued by the Venezuelan government in order to build 10,000 apartment homes  in Venezuela.
Mazaheri is also the director  of an “International Development Bank” that is part of the Export and Development Bank of Iran. The bank is registered in Venezuela as an international bank, but it has offices only in Caracas, and none are accessible to the public. Both the Export and Development Bank of Iran and the International Development Bank have been put on the U.S. sanctions list.
On February 4, Venezuela’s opposition  declared the incident as a “clear irregularity” and demanded explanations from the Venezuelan government.
Ailing President Hugo Chavez has long flaunted his closeness to Iran as an “axis of unity.”
Last Tuesday, the Iranian ambassador told the Venezuelan media  that the money was for Kayson Venezuela, a Tehran-based construction company that claims to have built thousands of homes in Venezuela in cooperation with Caracas.
Iran has invested in industrial operations and created financial institutions in Venezuela that may be used to evade U.N. sanctions, according to the American Enterprise Institute . This is also not the first time that foreign authorities have suspected dubious behavior from both countries: In 2008, Turkish customs inspectors  intercepted 22 containers bound for the VenIran “tractor factory” in Bolivar, Venezuela, that were labeled as “tractor parts” but contained chemicals that could be used for explosives.
The discovery of a $70 million check in the hands of a senior Iranian official again highlights the secretive nature of ties between Iran and Venezuela  and the ongoing need for scrutiny of the relationship between the two countries.
Yvette Betance is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm 
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2013/02/15/why-was-an-iranian-official-found-with-venezuelan-money/
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://blog.heritage.org/wp-content/uploads/Tahmasb_Mazaheri_130215.jpg
 January 21: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2272795/Tahmasb-Mazaheri-Man-caught-customs-officers-entering-Germany-single-cheque-worth-45MILLION.html#axzz2KcaThJsV
 10,000 apartment homes: http://www.elnuevodiario.com.ni/internacionales/276476
 director: http://www.elnuevoherald.com/2013/02/05/1400081_p2/eeuu-investiga-vinculos-de-iran.html
 Venezuela’s opposition: http://www.2001.com.ve/la-nacion/mud-pide-aclaraciones-por-cheque-de-exministro-irani.html
 told the Venezuelan media: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/06/world/americas/firm-denies-deception-in-big-check-tied-to-iran.html?ref=americas&_r=0
 American Enterprise Institute: http://www.aei.org/article/foreign-and-defense-policy/regional/latin-america/hugo-chvezs-criminal-nuclear-network-a-grave-and-growing-threat/
 In 2008, Turkish customs inspectors: http://www.foxnews.com/printer_friendly_wires/2009Jan06/0,4675,EUTurkeyIranVenezuela,00.html
 of ties between Iran and Venezuela: http://blog.heritage.org../2012/09/18/iran-a-strategy-for-the-threat-closer-to-home/
 http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm
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