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Iran: Mesbahi, a Member of the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Discernment Council, Admits To an $80 Billion Annual Money Laundering Scheme

  • “Our transactions are covert, not transparent. $80 billion in imports and exports are covert transactions; from the day after joining the FATF, front companies will be identifiable, and it will no longer be possible to hide their transactions.
  • To circumvent the sanctions, we bought low-cost banks for $20 million in the region and used them to broker exchanges. We then closed any bank if it was identified by the US Treasury and opened a new one.
  • Abbas Akhoondi, former Rouhani’s Cabinet Minister: The banks are tasked to facilitate covert trade. We waste $20 billion a year on a handful of corrupt brokers. (As a result) the laborers’ livelihood is getting worse and Iran’s economy runs based on corruption.

Admitting to widespread and systematic money-laundering operations in the clerical regime, Gholamreza Mesbahi-Moghaddam, head of the Infrastructure and Production Commission of the Expediency Discernment Council and a member of the clerical regime’s Assembly of Experts said in a televised discussion: “The deals we make now are covert. They are masked and not transparent. The CFT and Palermo Bills both state that any transaction in which one or both parties are not transparent would be considered money laundering and terrorist financing. We have $40 billion in exports and $40 billion in imports that are not transparent. Most of our oil is exported through informal channels. All other products that we are exporting, such as gasoline, gas, petrochemicals, etc., all are done through front companies, and from the day after joining the FATF, front companies will be identifiable by the other party, because it will no longer be possible to use front companies.”

Mesbahi, whose remarks were reported by the state-run Eghtesad news, quoting the regime’s central bank’s deputy foreign exchange official added, “Previously, to circumvent the sanctions, we bought low-cost banks in the range of $20 million in the region and used them as broker exchanges. We then closed any bank if it was identified by the US Treasury and opened a new one.”

Attending the same roundtable, former Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoondi also revealed: “We waste $20 billion a year on a handful of corrupt brokers. During the past six to seven years, Iran had wasted over $160 billion in this way. The nation is living in misery and poverty, and this is the result of these one-sided measures.

He added, “So far, Dubai money exchanges have plundered millions of dollars from Iranian businessmen. You want to cover up the origin and export the goods to Korea, China, and any other country, but the buyer knows that the products’ origin has been changed and says that my purchase from you is risky, so I will buy the product at a lower price. You must take all these costs into account; these costs are between 20 to 30% of the net revenue …You have to acknowledge that as a result, you are imposing overall poverty on this country… Hence, the work of the banks is basically a dirty work of facilitating the cover-ups and therefore they are overcharging… More than 70% of the bank’s resources are to facilitate these commercial tasks. Consequently, you have inadvertently created a platform in which the Iranian economy is now based on corruption.”

These confessions make it palpably clear as to why the regime’s leaders, especially the Revolutionary Guards and Khamenei-affiliated institutions that control most banks and covert transactions, fear joining the FATF. Large-scale cover-up transactions, at the cost of impoverishing more and more people, bring billions of dollars in profits to corrupt government factions and are a guaranteed means of financing the export of foreign terrorism and warmongering.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)

January 19, 2021