The president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, delivered a speech over the weekend in Iran alleging massive corruption by senior government officials, and claimed that over $700 million is gone that was under the control of the Minister of Petroleum, Bijan Namdar Zangeneh, and a further $2 billion is unaccounted for in foreign countries in another case. He also alleged that the powerful judiciary in Iran is sweeping evidence of corruption by high ranking government officials (politically exposed persons) under the rug.
In his speech, Rouhani talked about the case of Babak Zanjani, who was convicted of laundering $2.7 billion out of Iran, some of it in Bitcoin and sentenced to death in 2016. Not only has Zanjani not been executed but Iranian foreign nationals subsequent to his sentence, shared pictures of him allegedly spotted in Istanbul and Dubai. The $2.7 billion missing is supposedly about 20% of the amount Zanjani removed to other countries. He would never disclose where the money was parked. Zanjani was closely tied to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and moved money, in part, for them. Zanjani had ties to Sajjad Alijani, a Bitcoin dealer in Iran. In 2012, he denied he moved money for the Iranian government but in 2016, admitted that was what his business was.
Rouhani accused the government of doing nothing to repatriate the funds Babak Zanjani removed from Iran as a PEP and is doing nothing to pursue another case where $947 million is missing.
His speech was quite unusual, given that the Iranian regime does not usually attack internally. This week, the US Department of Treasury sanctioned IRGC commander Mohammad Bagheri and the new head of the judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, whose job is allegedly to address massive corruption by PEPs in Iran who have removed funds to other countries.
It’s probably no secret that Iranian PEPS move their money and families to Vancouver, Canada, partly because Canada is a sanctions avoidance safe haven arising from the fact that Canada has not staffed its sanctions enforcement capabilities and there is a belief among some banks that correspondent banking rules do not make them subject to US sanctions law in respect of US dollar transfers.