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Company at Center of Iran’s Sanctions Evasion Exposed

ghadir gci international gmbh iran germany

In a report by the ARD, Germany’s primary state television network, it was stated that Düsseldorf-based company GIC International GmbH is under scrutiny for potential violations of international sanctions. According to the report, documents leaked to the opposition movement People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran and obtained by WDR and SZ suggest that the regime may have utilized the Düsseldorf-based company, along with other firms in Germany, to facilitate international trade transactions and real estate acquisitions despite the sanctions.

Mr. Dabiran a member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) Foreign Affairs Committee alleged the Iranian regime of “building a broad network to circumvent sanctions” and called for stricter measures against Tehran, including designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization in the European Union.

Internal documents obtained by German media outlets WDR and SZ suggest GIC International is owned by Ghadir Investment Company, an Iranian conglomerate sanctioned by the United States for its alleged ties to the IRGC. The documents raise concerns that GIC International may be facilitating transactions for Ghadir, potentially benefiting the sanctioned entity.

ARD, Germany’s primary state television network has published the information on its website which a translated and shorter version follows below:

 

Doing business on behalf of Iran?

Nestled in an industrial zone on the western outskirts of Düsseldorf, the International Business Center stands prominently at the exit of the A52 highway. Within this bustling hub, at Monschauer Strasse 12, resides GIC International GmbH, housed within a multi-storey office building. Despite its modest online presence, the company’s website showcases images of power plants and industrial facilities, hinting at its diverse portfolio.

With a track record spanning three decades in international trade, GIC International GmbH boasts partnerships across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, specializing in sectors ranging from oil and gas to petrochemicals, cement, and metals. Official records indicate that the company raked in approximately 600 million euros in sales between 2017 and 2021.

Delving deeper, the commercial register reveals that this Düsseldorf-based enterprise was established in 2012 with direct financial backing from Tehran. Behind the scenes looms the Ghadir Investment Company, a conglomerate with stakes in over 100 Iranian firms spanning industries like oil, chemicals, and construction. Notably, Ghadir Investment has been ensnared in United States sanctions for years, categorized by U.S. authorities as part of a network intertwined with Iranian state security organs, including the Revolutionary Guards.

The revelation of GIC International GmbH’s ties to Ghadir Investment Company underscores the intricate nexus between Iranian economic entities and state apparatus, prompting scrutiny over the potential involvement of Revolutionary Guards in these business dealings.

Doing business despite sanctions?

Investigations conducted by WDR and “Süddeutsche Zeitung” have unveiled a potential connection between the Düsseldorf-based GIC International and a network of companies purportedly orchestrated by Iranian state agencies. Documents leaked to the opposition movement People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran and obtained by WDR and SZ suggests that the regime may have utilized the Düsseldorf-based company, along with other firms in Germany, to perpetuate international trade transactions and real estate acquisitions despite sanctions.

The leaked documents purportedly include internal company records and communications between the managing director of GIC International in Düsseldorf and the leadership of Ghadir Holding in Iran. WDR and SZ have meticulously translated the Persian originals and corroborated details such as individuals, locations, and dates to authenticate the documents.

According to the papers, GIC International is alleged to have established an “export network for urea” from Iran in Düsseldorf, specifically for industrial urea crucial for diesel car exhaust gas purification. This initiative purportedly garnered acclaim in Tehran, with funds supposedly routed through trusted banking channels, as per a document concerning the Düsseldorf-based GIC.

 

In the focus of the U.S. authorities

Following a change in management within the Ghadir Group in 2021, the operations of the Düsseldorf-based company came under increased scrutiny. A meeting allegedly took place in October 2022 involving representatives from Tehran and Düsseldorf, where, according to a potential transcript, the head of GIC in Düsseldorf purportedly acknowledged, “Unfortunately, German regulators have uncovered GIC’s connection to the Ghadir Investment Company in Iran.” Consequently, another company was reportedly established specifically to facilitate payment transactions to Iran.

The Ghadir Investment had already attracted attention from U.S. authorities as early as June 2013, with the U.S. government alleging that the holding company generated funds for the Iranian security apparatus. Specifically, the U.S. authorities linked Ghadir Investment to the Social Security Organization of the Iranian Armed Forces, known as SATA, tasked with providing health and pension benefits to members of Iran’s military, Revolutionary Guards, and police. In November 2018, U.S. sanctions were renewed and expanded, once again focusing on Ghadir Investment and its numerous branches.

One of these branches appears to be the Düsseldorf-based GIC International. German security circles reportedly have been aware of the company for some time, particularly concerning potential sanctions violations. However, to date, there is no concrete evidence of criminal offenses.

Broad network for sanctions evasion

Western security agencies have maintained vigilance over intricate, cross-border networks associated with Iran for some time. Utilizing front companies and intermediaries, these networks facilitate the acquisition of materials suitable for military purposes in defiance of sanctions or provide financing for Iran’s military ventures.

According to Javad Dabiran, the regime of the mullahs has skillfully “constructed an extensive network to evade sanctions by exploiting the West’s misguided policy of appeasement.” Dabiran advocates for the designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization within the European Union and calls for additional sanctions on its industries.

These assertions underscore the persistent challenges posed by Iran’s efforts to circumvent sanctions and the consequent impact on regional and international security dynamics. The call for heightened measures against Iran’s Revolutionary Guards reflects growing concerns regarding their role in perpetuating destabilizing activities and underscores the urgency for robust international action to address such threats.

 

More front companies?

A purported internal letter from Düsseldorf to Tehran reveals plans to register new companies abroad with the assistance of GIC International. These companies would facilitate the procurement of sensitive materials and future payment processing, potentially in Oman, Armenia, the United Arab Emirates, or China.

Care was taken to obscure any direct connection to Ghadir Investment Holding in Iran. Documents suggest that discussions occurred in Tehran towards the end of 2022 regarding the dissolution of GIC International in Düsseldorf and the sale of its Monschauer Straße property, acquired years ago for six million euros. The rationale cited for these considerations is the increasing difficulty in conducting bank transactions due to US sanctions and growing mistrust towards companies within the Ghadir Investment network.

During a meeting in Tehran, reportedly attended by representatives from Germany and a colonel of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, it was allegedly decided that dissolving GIC International would attract undue attention. Instead, the focus would shift to newly founded companies deemed to be “developing in the right direction,” operating effectively and in compliance with German tax laws. The alleged protocol quotes the Iranian guardsman as stating, “We can set up front companies alongside these companies.” GIC responded to an earlier inquiry by refuting the accuracy of this information.