December 2017 - update July 3 2019
Iranian sales companies turned out to be specialized in Advance Fee Fraud “non-delivery scams” and the trading/holding companies in Dubai were nothing less than investment fraud benefiting the IRGC.
"Having infiltrated the personal ecosystems of government leaders, IRGC is secretly posing a threat behind the scenes"
Business with Iran was promoted when multinationals from Europe and Asia committed billions to investments in long term strategic industries. Those deals signaled a new page in the history of Iran. In the mainstream media it seemed as if Iran suddenly became an acceptable business risk.
In reality, even after the Iran deal business is risky, because it is a nuclear cooperation deal which includes many circumstantial requirements. What big companies view as an acceptable business risk, still is an unacceptable short term risk.
A limited number of key prohibitions still apply. These include:
1. A prior authorisation will be required for business which direct or indirect benefits the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. (IRGC)
2. Financial institutions are still prohibited from supplying SWIFT services until Transition Day in 2023.
The Revolutionary Guards business empire
When doing business in Iran it’s difficult to avoid the IRGC because the IRGC control a vast number of industries including mining, petrochemicals, telecommunications, health and agriculture. It’s the IRGC that negotiates and grants licenses to operate, process, import and export. Once (smaller) businesses do that, they violate sanctions because that does direct or indirect benefits the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and requires prior authorization.
Businesses, which view Iran as a target economy are frustrated by the absence of banking facilities. Even though Iran agreed to the stipulations that Financial institutions are still prohibited from supplying SWIFT services, Iran says the West is failing to implement its side of the deal by not providing banking and insurance provisions to facilitate trade with Iran. For example, virtually none of the 500 million pound line of credit for Iran by the UK Department for International Trade’s has been used.
Solutions and loopholes to bypass financial sanctions
Large payments are settled with big price differences in oil shipments. But for operational use inside Iran, multinational companies (for example Emirates bank in Dubai) often use their own financial services, be it branches or representative offices and are able to avoid sanctions liability when dealing with the Iranian government. For example Total has identified small European banks that will furnish its local financing needs in Iran, according to The New York Times, and has spent months sending small amounts of Euro there to test its banking system. Smaller companies (unwittingly!?) use Iranian facilitators in (Dubai) the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Tadzjikistan.
Sanctions and Organised Crime
Iranian Scammers violate sanctions
European and Asian governments recently ordered surveys of Iranian business activity within their borders that revealed organised criminal, Advance Fee Fraud and scam activities of Iranian organisations, companies, and individuals. The survey uncovered state sponsored business networks where fraud shifted from a criminal inspired activity into an ideology driven (terror) funding mechanism, benefiting the IRGC. (e.g. SAVAK, SAVAMA, Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic of Iran )
Fraud and scams
Iranian owners lured respected business people as straw men directors for their sales companies in Europe and trading companies in Dubai the UAE. The sales companies turned out to be specialized in Advance Fee Fraud “non-delivery scams” and the trading/holding companies in Dubai were nothing less than investment fraud benefiting the IRGC.
While wealthy Asian, European, American consumers and businesses paid tens of millions in down payments to the sales organisations, (professional and private) investors paid hundreds of millions to holding companies and money laundering vehicles based on forgeries of licences and ownership documents.
"Defrauded victims are from Italy, France, Netherlands, Germany, the United States, Turkey, Oman, China, India, ....."
Historically Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence (Savak) has a strong presence in Europe to spy on the Iranian opposition in Iran’s Diaspora. It is involved in spreading misinformation about opponents and recruiting/eliminating opposition members.
Iran accuses US of ‘brazen’ plan to change its government
Except for the “peaceful” part, it was no surprise to Iran when U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson was repeating a long standing foreign policy (paused under Obama) that the U.S. will “work toward support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government." No one should be surprised that this re-activated (U.S.) Western policy is perceived as a death threat and therefore Iranian IRGC hard-liners instructed Iran’s intelligence services to mirror that policy towards (leaders in) the West. Including an increase of ballistic missile range to above 2,000 Kilometer , the EMAD
In addition to organised criminal, fraud and scam activities, the survey of Iranian business activities also revealed infiltration inside the personal eco-systems of internationally renowned business leaders, government ministers and Heads of State. A clear and present danger
Update July 3 2019
Proxy war started. Iranians bring it to the US, South America and Europe. Sleeper cells are in place. Funding via Organized Crime Groups. (OCG, TOC)
On June 26th the EU mechanism for trade with Iran INSTEX became operational
Update January 2020
Some can be linked to threats by leaders of Iran and Hezbollah. To divert the blame, others piggyback on those revenge threats and/or capitalize on emotional and political tensions, intentionally undermining the rule of law to cause civil unrest.
HUMINT, CT and AML investigations show that threats have the highest credibility and chance of success when tradecraft, funding, and support go back further in time than the (alleged) reasons for an assassination.
Ultrascan Research - plots to assassinate Heads of States - update January 2020
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