Iranian 'set up international money laundering network', claim opposition
An Iranian opposition group has claimed that an official in the country defied United Nations sanctions to build an international money laundering network that funds black market equipment purchases by the regime.
The official, who is said to work for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's technology section, made at least two visits to Vienna this year to carry out multi-million euro transactions, People's Mujahadeen, the opposition group said.
The sources said that while the official and the Centre for Innovation and Technology Cooperation, part of Ahmadinejad's presidential office, are on the US Treasury's sanctions list, no measures have been taken against the official in Europe, the Telegraph reports.
According to the report, money passing through the network is believed to be brought into Europe through diplomatic channels in deliveries of half a million euros.
According to the group the official has targeted Austria as a hub.
"Austria's capacities are very high and we have had good capacities with them since the Islamic Revolution. Currently we are in contact with some groups there, regarding technology production who are indeed active in political economy too and have independent lobbies as well. It is also possible to use Austrian banks," the assessment signed by the official said.
According to the report, international sanctions have sought to close off and restrict Iran's access to highly engineered materials that could be used in its nuclear programme.
Fears that the country is stockpiling enriched uranium to be used in a nuclear bomb have triggered a range of measures against trade and financial links with Iran, the report said.
European sources said there have been concerns over the Austrian authorities' failure to intervene in working trips to Europe. The Austrian interior ministry said it had not yet launched an official investigation of the activities, it added.
Officials hope that new tighter measure introduced earlier this month by the EU will cut off virtually all financial transactions with Iran, forcing the Austrian authorities to scrutinise closely every transaction by banks and licenced money shops with Iranian links, the report said.