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Viewing cable 09BAKU175, IRAN'S MONEY LAUNDERERS, SANCTIONS-BUSTERS, AND

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BAKU175 2009-03-06 09:09 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Baku
VZCZCXRO1853
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK
DE RUEHKB #0175/01 0650955
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 060955Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAKU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0863
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 BAKU 000175 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/08/2019 
TAGS: PREL ETRD SNAR ECON AJ TU RU IR
SUBJECT: IRAN'S MONEY LAUNDERERS, SANCTIONS-BUSTERS, AND 
REVOLUTIONARY GUARD MONEY MAKERS: A BAKU SAMPLER 
 
REF: A) BAKU 139 B) BAKU 132 C) BAKU 80 D) 2008 BAKU 
     917 
 
Classified By: POLECON CHIEF ROB GARVERICK, REASON 1.5 (B and D) 
 
Summary 
--------- 
 
1.  (S)  According to widespread rumor, many Iranians in Baku 
are involved full- or part-time in Iranian regime-related 
profit making, sanctions-busting, money laundering, and 
similar activities.  Activities range from assisting Iranian 
interests "on the side" of pursuing private activities, to 
working primarily for Iranian government entities.  These 
Iranians' formal businesses in Azerbaijan include factories, 
construction companies, trading companies, and shops, some of 
which may be hollow companies hiding illicit or semi-licit 
activities.  Some are also said to be significant actors in 
obtaining spare parts and equipment for the Revolutionary 
Guard, raising revenues and managing money for it and/or 
regime figures, or managing Iran-origin narcotics 
trafficking.  The list is a "sampler" of the types of 
personnel and activities singled out to Iran watcher by 
multiple sources as actively involved in Iranian 
regime-supportive financial and procurement activities.  The 
list suggests the extensive and complex interconnection of 
Iranian figures and activities that reportedly support 
Iranian security organizations and regime figures.  End 
Summary. 
 
2.  (S) Baku Iran watcher received the information below from 
a wide variety of independent Iranian and Azerbaijani sources 
(strictly protect), including Baku-based Iranian students, 
business figures, and human rights activists; a Tehran-based 
Iranian exporter; a prominent businessman working in Iran; 
the Executive Director of AmCham in Azerbaijan; an 
Azerbaijani oil company executive; and a local partner in a 
leading international management consulting firm.  In almost 
all cases the information below was related/confirmed 
separately by at least three of the above sources. 
 
3.  (S) Please note that, while serious efforts have been 
made to cross-check the information below and ignore 
"indirect" claims, Iran watcher has no independent ability to 
verify these allegations.  Although some of these figures are 
well known in Baku and/or among the resident Iranian 
community, Baku Iran watcher has never met any of them.  The 
information below should be interpreted in this context. 
 
4.  (S) Begin List: 
 
A.  (S) Jamal Allavi.  Three Iranian sources claimed that 
Allavi is a close relative of the ex-Mayor of Ardebil, and a 
former colleague/friend of President Ahmedinajad.  He now 
runs several Iranian companies (mostly trading), and is the 
head of a provincial cooperative organization "Tavanee 
Marzneshinan Fedayan Velayat," entitled to export and import 
items with reduced restrictions.  Allavi has a house in Baku 
and frequently travels on business to Azerbaijan, Russia, 
China, and Kazakhstan.  He uses his businesses as a cover for 
procuring and importing military spare parts and other items 
needed by the Revolutionary Guard and other Iranian security 
forces, bribing customs officials as necessary.  A fourth 
Iranian source noted that, while he did not know Allavi, the 
company name is a "giveaway" of Revolutionary Guard/regime 
connections. 
 
B.  (S) FNU "Lotfi".  Runs a large artificial leather factory 
in Ardebil ("Kharkhaneye Charmeh Masnui)", and other 
businesses based in Iranian Azerbaijan.  He is a close 
associate of Jamal Allavi (entry "A" above), with whom he 
cooperates in smuggling activities.  He is an officer in the 
Revolutionary Guard (possibly retired), and his businesses 
are actually Revolutionary Guard-owned.  He travels to 
Malaysi, Singapore, Dubai, Turkey, and Iraq as well as 
zerbaijan on Revolutionary Guard business.  He als assists 
Revolutionary Guard and/or Iranian intelligence operations by 
"getting for them what they need," including communications 
equipment and technical information. 
 
C.  (S) Adil Sharabiani.  An Iranian currency exchange dealer 
with "close links" to Tehran.  He was formerly a manager of 
 
BAKU 00000175  002 OF 004 
 
 
Bank Melli Iran, and currently has a close business 
relationship with the Xalq Bank, a medium-sized bank in Baku. 
 He came to Azerbaijan after going bankrupt in Iran under 
murky circumstances.  He is wealthy and reportedly works 
closely with the Iranian "Foundation for the Oppressed" 
(Banyadeh Mostazafan), overseeing its business and investment 
activities in Azerbaijan, and advising the management of the 
Foundation-owned Darya Soap Detergent company in Azerbaijan 
(headed by one "Farzandeh").  He also assists another Iranian 
foundation that is providing financial assistance to 
Azerbaijani refugees from Karabagh with up to 300 Manat per 
family per month (about $350). 
 
An Iranian contact said that a friend had recently witnessed 
Sharabiani delivering five million dollars in cash "from 
Iran" to the Bank of Baku that was not entered on the books. 
The Iranian source did not know whether the money represented 
a personal payment to Sharabiani or a disbursement entrusted 
to him for some other purpose.  The anti-regime source 
alleged that Sharabiani "periodically" makes such deliveries 
to the Bank.  An Iranian businessman separately told Iran 
watcher that Sharabiani has "very good relations" with the 
Iranian government, and is widely assumed by other Iranians 
to be assisting both regime organizations and individual 
regime/clerical figures in investment and money laundering 
activities. 
 
Note: The Xalq Bank was established using former staff of the 
Bank of Baku (see 'E" below).  It is one of the most popular 
Baku banking venues in Azerbaijan for Iranian businesses and 
Iranians in Iran.  Two other popular banks for Iranians are 
the "Royal Bank of Baku," owned by an Iranian-American (ref 
C), and the "Bank of Baku."  End Note). 
 
D.  (S) Kamal Darvishi.  This individual and his three 
brothers were famous fighters during the Iran-Iraq war. 
Kamil  rose to the rank of General in the Revolutionary 
Guard, and formerly had important Teheran-area security and 
intelligence duties.  He and his brother Keyoumars began 
coming to Azerbaijan regularly ten years ago.  Although from 
a very poor family, they are both extremely wealthy.  Kamal 
owns several road and other infrastructure construction 
companies in Iran, and formerly effectively controlled much 
of this sector in Iran (according to a Teheran businessman, 
"no roads in Iran could be built without him or his friends 
as a partner.)" 
 
Darvishi formerly ran the "NASR" company, an alleged 
Revolutionary Guard-controlled business in Iran.  Some of his 
business activities and networking reportedly aroused 
suspicion, resulting in his official "retirement" from the 
Revolutionary Guard.  In recent years Darvishi has developed 
a close business relationship/friendship with Azerbaijan 
Minister of Transportation Ziya Mammedov, and  with 
Mammedov's assistance has won at least eight major road 
construction and rehabilitation contracts, including 
contracts for construction of the Baku-Iranian Astara 
highway, the Baku-Guba highway, and the BaQ ring highway. 
(Comment: We assume Mammedov is a silent partner in these 
contracts.  Mammedov's immediate family owns Azerbaijan's 
largest commercial development company, and he is notoriously 
corrupt even for Azerbaijan.  Iran watcher has heard many 
allegations from Azerbaijani contacts of creative corrupt 
practices involving highway construction here.  End Comment). 
 
 
Iranian business and student contacts asserted that Darvishi 
maintains close relations with the Revolutionary Guard and 
Iranian intelligence.  Two noted that he travels freely 
abroad, in violation of ten-year legal limitations on 
personal foreign travel by retired senior Revolutionary Guard 
officers.  An Iranian student reported that Darvishi is 
recruiting among Iranian students in Azerbaijan for work in a 
new company he is establishing here. 
 
E.  (S) Jamsheed "Jushkar" Mahmudoglu. He and his brothers 
are Iranian Azerbaijanis who have obtained Turkish 
citizenship.  They are large shareholders in the Bank of 
Baku, which is sometimes presented as a "Turkish bank."  They 
are originally from Tabriz, where the family were wealthy 
gold and currency dealers who lost their business after the 
Iranian Revolution.  The family fled to Turkey and ultimately 
 
BAKU 00000175  003 OF 004 
 
 
obtained Turkish passports.  Their business deals in 
Azerbaijan and Iran are frequently entwined with the Oromi 
brothers, another former Tabrizi-now-Turkish family active in 
Azerbaijan and Iran.  They and the Oromis set up the Silsila 
General Trading company in Dubai under the aegis of the NAB 
Group.  In Iran they jointly own a company which produces 
boilers on license from a German company (Bosch).  In 
Azerbaijan they cooperated in the establishment of the Baku 
Electronics company and the Bank of Baku (the latter in 
partnership with the family of former Minister of Economic 
Development Farhad Aliyev, see below).  Unlike the Oromis, 
Jamsheed reportedly remains a major shareholder in this bank. 
 
Two Iranian sources repeated "rumors" that this son is 
working with a son of Ayatollah Rafsanjani in several 
business ventures.  Jamsheed has relations with prominent 
Azerbaijani and Iranian business and government figures, and 
allegedly does favors for Iranian government personnel, 
including facilitating of desired foreign items and money 
laundering.  The President of AmCham in Baku (protect) 
confirmed that Jamsheed is a major bank shareholder, and 
originally from Iran.  She nd other sources opined that the 
bank is one of he more "professionally run" in Baku. 
(Comment: The bank is known for its relations with Turkish 
companies.  The Bank of Baku was formerly controlled by the 
brother of Farhad Aliyev, a former Azerbaijani Minister of 
Economic Development who is currently jailed.  According to a 
prominent Azerbaijani business consultant (strictly protect), 
Aliyev's position has been divided between the Azerbaijani 
Minister of Transportation Ziya Mammedov, and the Head of 
Presidential Security, Vahid Akhundov.  End Comment). 
 
F.  (S) Shahram Oromi.  An Iranian Azerbaijani who obtained 
Turkish citizenship after the Iranian revolution. 
Nonetheless, he attended university in Iran, graduating from 
Iran Azad university (1993).  He and his brothers Nadir and 
Bahram established the "Turkish" NAB Foreign Trade company 
(Deesh Ticaret Limited Sherkati) in 1988.  The company 
(headquartered in Istanbul) does extensive trading between 
Turkey and the Middle East and Iran.  It is active in 
Azerbaijan, and also present in Russia and other CIS 
countries.  Since 1995 this company has been the distributor 
of Hyundai cars in Azerbaijan, and a member of the family is 
reportedly the Agent for Samsung in Turkey and Azerbaijan. 
The consultant describes the Oromi brother's business mode as 
based on "establishing insider monopolies or advantages via 
relations with powerful government individuals and their 
relatives" in the various countries in which they operate, 
"using bribes, 'gifts,' or offers of a share in their 
business." 
 
The Oromis helped set up the Bank of Baku (see item "E' 
above), and Shahram served in various positions (ranging from 
Chief of the Financial Audit Department to Chairman) between 
1999-2007, however they have recently sold most of their 
shares in this bank to influential Azerbaijanis.  The Oromi's 
allegedly work cooperatively in areas requested by senior 
Iranian figures, and several of their businesses may 
facilitate regime (or regime member) interests.  Shahram was 
and remains close to former Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan 
Ahmed Qazai. 
 
G.  (S) "Asgar" LNU (commonly known in Baku as "Agaya Asgar). 
 His private company is located at #16 Gorbanov Street in 
Baku, next to the Nizami metro station.  His formal business 
is Iran-Russia timber and wood products export/import via 
Azerbaijan.  A native of Iranian Azerbaijan, Asgar has an 
Azerbaijani wife and has lived in Baku for several years. 
He works closely with political officers based at the Iran 
Culture House (ref B).  His wife is the cousin of the 
Azerbaijani Minister of Education Misir Mardanov, and 
Mardanov's brother is one of his business partners.  Irada 
Afetgizi, an Iranian who helped organize an anti-Israel 
"Islamic world" conference held at the Baku Media Center in 
2007, works in his office.  Asgar owns two homes in Baku and 
hosts visiting Iranian clerics and relatives of Iranian 
regime officials and senior Revolutionary Guard officers.  He 
has close ties to Iranian government and Revolutionary Guard 
organizations and individuals, and assists them in business 
activities.  He often travels to Moscow. 
 
H.  (S) Jabrail Naveed "Azerbaijani."  A famous "fixer" for 
 
BAKU 00000175  004 OF 004 
 
 
Iranians in Azerbaijan (hence his nickname).  He was head of 
the Iranian Trader's Association in Azerbaijan until that 
organization closed in the late 1990's.  An Iranian 
manufacturer and exporter from Tehran who has known the 
family for years (strictly protect) noted that "he is very 
wealthy, but doesn't flaunt it."  He said that Naveed's wife 
formerly worked in Iran as an officer in Bank Melli, where 
she facilitated loans to unqualified regime bigwigs and their 
cronies. 
 
Three contacts separately claimed that Naveed has facilitated 
Iran-related energy business ventures with the State Oil 
Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), and illicitly exports (falsely 
labeled) Pelite and other oil drilling materials and 
chemicals and propane gas.  Naveed also reportedly owns the 
"Pingvin" iron workshop in Azerbaijan.  The Tehran 
businessman said that Naveed helps facilitate import of 
sanctioned products into Iran from Russia and elsewhere via 
the Azerbaijani enclave of Nakchevan, and said that he 
himself is one of "many" legitimate Iranian exporters who 
have been pressured into cooperating in this activity. 
Naveed is a close friend of the head of Baku's Husseiniya 
("Iranian") mosque, Mullah Ogagnejad, and oversees the 
mosques' administration.  Ogagnejad is a son-in-law of the 
late Ayatollah Meshkini, and the personal religious 
representative of Ayatollah Khameini in Azerbaijan (ref B). 
 
I.  (S) Safa Naveed.  Son of Jabrail Naveed (above).  A 
graduate of Baku's Kavkaz university, he is currently a 
Revolutionary Guard officer working at the Iranian Embassy in 
Baku.  He is a leadliaison with Iranian students in 
Azerbaijan.  AnIranian student described Safa's duties as 
"spyig on" Iranian students in Baku, and an Iranian 
businessman who has known the family for years told Iran 
watcher that Safa Naveed has frequently boasted to him about 
his and Iran's knowledge of what goes on in Azerbaijan, 
extensive information networks here, and "ability to get 
anything it needs."  One contact described Safa as 
"fanatically anti-Western." 
 
J.  (S) Asgar Jabbari.  One of the "two Asgars" widely known 
among Iranians in Baku (see "F" above).  Son of the late 
"Mullah Natiq," a famous hard-line orator during the Iranian 
revolution and the Iran-Iraq war.  Jabbari's wife is from 
Azerbaijan, he owns a house here, and travels back and forth 
regularly between Iran and Azerbaijan.  His main official 
business is exporting Iranian marble from Isfahan, where he 
works with a large factory, which is actually a Revolutionary 
Guard front company (Note: Iranian marble is commonly used in 
Baku residential and office-building construction, which has 
been undergoing a boom here until recently.  End Note.) 
Jabbari has close business relationships with senior Iranian 
government officials, and carries out business activities and 
buys real estate on their behalf.  (Note: Jabbari's name is 
of Arabic origin, but is more likely to imply religious piety 
than Arabic heritage.  End Note). 
 
K.  (S) Sabir Shaheen.  Though reportedly mild-mannered and 
well dressed, Shaheen is a well known mafia-like figure from 
Iranian Azerbaijan who reportedly acts as a "liaison" between 
the Iranian and Russian/Azerbaijani narcotics traffickers. 
Although he officially operates a marble store on Baku's Karl 
Marx street, the store is generally closed and Shaheen 
himself is generally seen holding court at restaurants and 
cafes along 28 May Street.  (Note: Iran reportedly has one of 
the highest per capita rates of heroin addiction in the 
world, and heroin and other narcotics trafficking from Iran 
to Russia and Europe via Azerbaijan has skyrocketed over the 
last two years.  See ref (D). 
 
End List. 
DERSE