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Iran's Alleged Laundering Arrangement With Venezuela.

As revolutionary states whose ruling ideologies are deeply hostile to both Israel and the United States, Iran and Venezuela are natural allies: There's a reason Hezbollah has been so at-home in the ever-backsliding South American country. A new Bloomberg report is a reminder that Venezuela also provides a tangible service to Iran, by giving the Islamic Republic illicit access to foreign currencies that the sanctions regime still block Iran from holding. The Bloomberg story describes an alleged laundering arrangement in which the Venezuelan state oil company dramatically overpaid an Iranian construction firm for a project largely organized as a means of delivering foreign currency to the Iranian government.

The ingenuity of the construction scheme attests to the Iran-Venezuela money laundering relationship's remarkable versatility. According to the Bloomberg report, in 2008, the Iranian Bank Saderat, at the time on the U.S. Treasury Department's Specially Designated Nationals list, helped launch a Venezuelan financial institution called Banco Nacionale de Desarrallo, which Saderat also owned. The purpose of Iranian ownership of the bank was to set up a "nesting scheme" whereby Iran could use a Venezuelan bank to surreptitiously access the U.S. financial system using various non-sanctioned third-parties. A new round of western sanctions on Iranian-linked Venezuelan financial institutions limited the nesting arrangement's effectiveness, but several legal and political experts, including former Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau, discovered evidence of continuing ties between the Iranian regime and the Venezuelan financial system. In 2013, an Iranian director of Banco Nacionale de Desarrallo was detained in Germany for failing to declare a check worth 300 million Venezeulan bolivars, or $70 million, at customs.

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Author:Rosen, Armin
Publication:Tablet Magazine
Geographic Code:3VENE
Date:Dec 16, 2016
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