It is a mystery wrapped in an enigma; Iranian oil-for-gold sanctions evaders who went rogue, stealing billions from illegal oil sales. Why are they Persons of Interest to the Office of the Special Prosecutor and where do they fit into the investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 US Presidential Election ?
Some points to ponder:
(1) Alireza Monfared, who ran the illicit Iran oil sales program from Labuan, Malaysia's island offshore tax haven, was returned to Iran, via a circuitous Havana to Moscow to Tehran route, specifically to keep him out of US airspace, where he might have been detained. He was obviously an agent of Iranian intelligence, with classified information, meaning that Iran could not risk falling into US hands. Were the others (Babak Zanjani, Reza Zarrab and other unknown partners) also intelligence agents ? Monfared has never appeared in open court since he was brought back to Iran. Remember the case of rogue CIA Agent Edwin Wilson; greed sometimes consumes individuals placed in a supervised position, where it may be easy to illegally acquire wealth.
Reza Zarrab - Sanction Evader
(2) Targut Harpin, Reza Zarrab's chauffeur, who was detained in Turkey, en route to Russia, with $180m in cash, was never charged. Is Zarrab an intelligence agent ?
(3) After Reza Zarrab entered a guilty plea in the Federal case in New York, he was seen by several journalists and even photographed, enjoying dinner in New York City, in the absence of an FBI minder, or United States Deputy Marshal. he appears to be a free man, which flies in the face of longtime policies of the Department of Justice, regarding post-conviction policies, which mandate custodial arrangements where the target is enjoying complete and unsupervised freedom at the moment. Is he now a CIA asset ?
(4) Zarrab, who has been interviewed, at great length, since his conviction, has been repeatedly visiting with members of the Special Counsel's office, although we do not know the subject matter of those interviews. Where does the Russian Investigation intersect with Iran's oil smuggling operation?
As you can see, we have many questions, but no answers. There have been tidbits appearing, regarding sealed information and closed hearings, conducted by the office of Special Prosecutor, but to date, no hard data has been made public. Did the Zarrab syndicate launder money for individuals involved in the Russia election probe ?
Perhaps, after the American elections next week, the Office of the Special Counsel will fill us with an indictment. Who did what to who ?
Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Financial Crime Analyst
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock - Financial Crime Consultant