Will the government majority in the National Assembly of Slovenia reveal or protect the culprits: all warning lights were blinking, but no one saw them #IranNLBgate

It looks like the sordid story concerning the laundering of Iranian money at NLB might reach a conclusion after all due to the hard work of those that are determined to get to the bottom of it. There is still a long way to go, but the investigation and discovery of all developments in 2009 and 2010 will help ensure that all culprits who have allowed this international scandal will be held accountable for their actions.

At a session of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, deputies will discuss an interim report about a parliamentary inquiry of the “Farrokh” case along with two additional interim reports that have been prepared by the commission of inquiry to determine the abuses in the Slovenian banking system, and they will also discuss a special report of the Commission for the Supervision of Intelligence and Security Services.

The findings in the extremely demanding and comprehensive content will be presented by Anže Logar, who leads the commission of inquiry, and Branko Grims, who leads the Commission for the Supervision of Intelligence and Security Services (KNOVS). The findings concerning the money laundering of $1 billion at NLB, whose main actor is the Iranian Iraj Farrokhzadeh, are already accessible to the public, and some of them are presented below.

Main findings of KNOVS

  • Based on the whole documentation, which indicated a reasonable suspicion of money laundering. the Office for Money Laundering Prevention should have submitted the report to law enforcement bodies.
  • The operatives that were dealing with the matter at the police probably did not have all the information.
  • The Office for Money Laundering Prevention started its investigation of the suspicious transactions after a report from the French office in July 2010. It also asked the Slovenian police and the Slovene Intelligence and Security Agency (SOVA) for their cooperation but did not disclose which bank was involved.
  • The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (CPC) received a secret document from a whistle-blower and the Bank of Slovenia which indicated the suspicion of money laundering, but all trace of the whistle-blower has been lost as the CPC concealed his or her identity.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs failed to respond to the matter at all.
  • SOVA informed neither the legislature nor KNOVS about the special intelligence information. The story was similar in the case of the police.

Principal points of the report from the commission of inquiry monitoring the banking system

  • The circumstances of the Iranian transactions with NLB were controversial, which is indicated by several examples: a very high turnover of the company on the account that had been opened at NLB, many small transfers, the fact that the money came from an Iranian bank that was subject to restrictive measures. All this indicates a suspicion of money laundering and terrorist financing of a company that was in business relations with the largest Slovenian state bank, NLB.
  • NLB failed in three important areas: the responsibility of the management board, the functioning of the internal control within the bank, and the implementation of appropriate policies and a system for the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • The business relationship between Iraj Farrokhzadeh, his companies, and NLB meets the criteria of all stages in the procedure for determining a suspicion of money laundering.
  • The Office for Money Laundering Prevention made (too) many mistakes, and it is also incomprehensible why the Bank of Slovenia and the CPC, which had reported much more trivial offences to the prosecution in the past, failed to act.

All of this again proves that everyone involved should have been attentive from the very beginning since the mere fact that a British citizen of Iranian descent had opened an account at NLB should have been reason enough to at least investigate this person. It would very quickly become clear that the money arriving from an Iranian bank that had been blacklisted by the EU Council does not bode well.

Something of interest. American president Donald Trump also discussed Iran in his Tuesday speech at the UN general assembly. He had harsh words for the nuclear agreement of world powers with Iran, calling it “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into”. “Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it,” he stressed. He also described Iran as a “corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy” whose “chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos”.

T. F.