Iran’s foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif is the chief negotiator over Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He’s “pragmatic”, said Biden, “not dogmatic”. Senator Feinstein chair of the state committee on intelligence said, “he doesn’t play games.”
While Zarif was beguiling lawmakers, he was violating US sanctions and funneling millions of dollars into Iran’s state-owned Bank Melli, designated by the Treasury Dept for its role in Iranian nuclear proliferation. Known as the Alavi case, this scheme ranks as the biggest money-laundering operation involving UN diplomats since Husseins’s oil for food program and Zarif is in the middle of it. The Alavi case attracted the serious attention of US authorities while he was in NY. After almost five years of court proceedings, a ruling issued paved the way for what US attorney Preet Bharara described as “the largest-ever terrorism-related forfeiture,” including a 36-story office tower in midtown Manhattan at 5th avenue. It was constructed in the 1970’s by the shah of Iran’s Pahlavi Foundation and financed by Bank Milli. Following the 1979 Islamic revolution, the new government in Tehran took control of the building and the bank. Hiding its role behind a nest of front corporations. The public face now known as the Alavi Foundation dedicated to spreading Persian culture and Islamic teachings, Alavi collected millions annually in office rents from buildings and doled out money across the US to Islamic community centers and Farsi-language schools; grants were given to universities including Harvard and McGill, investigators also discovered “money going overseas to suspect people”.
The court alleges that Alavi building, the Assa corporation, “was (and is) a front for Bank Melli, and thus a front for the government of Iran. Treasury had already designated the Assa corp a front for Bank Melli in 2008. Stuart Levey described Assa’s funneling money to Bank Melli as a “dangerous mix of proliferation and deception”. It’s role in Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs” and for providing “banking services to the Iranian revolutionary guard corps (IRGC) and the Oods force”—the IRGC’s external operation unit and behind many of Iran’s most notorious terrorist operations.
Court documents show that the entire Alavi laundering scheme was run with direct orders of supreme leader Ali Khamenei. According to documents Iran’s chief negotiator at Geneva went to expensive lengths to hid Alavi’s illicit ties when he was at the UN.
If Zarif’s role in the Alvai saga has so far gone largely unnoticed, it is perhaps because thw southern district court, in its press release on the forfeiture, did not mention Zarif by name. Congress has failed to look into the exploits of this pragmatic diplomat during his years on US solid. However given Zarif’s current incarnation as Iran’s man at the nuclear bargaining table, perhaps its time someone in Washington did.
Source—weekly standard, Claudia rosett