Controversy Over Alleged Iranian Money Laundering Continues

By , 14 Feb 2020, 09:52 AM Politics
Controversy Over Alleged Iranian Money Laundering Continues Flickr - CC by 0

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STA, 13 February 2020 - There was much controversy on Thursday as the parliamentary Commission for the Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services discussed the state prosecution's decision to reject a criminal complaint filed by a parliamentary inquiry over an alleged Iranian money laundering scheme at NLB bank a decade ago.

Addressing reporters after the session, Janez Janša, the leader of the Democrats (SDS), said that the session heard "things that explain much of what is happening" and what was keeping the media busy these days, something that would become very concrete in the future, which he said was "from now on".

After what the commission heard today, Janša said it had become obvious why the "law enforcement authorities that should have investigated the matter found there was nothing wrong (...) People who made possible a criminal act of epic proportions investigate themselves."

Darko Muženič, now director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), served at the Office for Money Laundering Prevention at the time that roughly one billion US dollars was allegedly laundered through NLB bank.

In a bid to "protect the dignity and integrity" of the NBI and Muženič, Police Commissioner Tatjana Bobnar explained today that Muženič at the time served in the department of the Office for Money laundering that was not in charge of the Farrokh case.

Farrokh was the name of the company of Iranian citizen Iraj Farrokhzadeh that the parliamentary inquiry in 2018 found laundered the money on behalf of Iran to skirt international sanctions.

The prosecution's decision of July last year not to prosecute abuse of office suspects in the case was debated by the parliamentary Home Affairs Committee on Wednesday, but the session was suspended because the SDS and the fellow conservative New Slovenia (NSi) wanted to hear from NBI and NLB representatives, who were not present at the session.

NSi deputy Jernej Vrtovec described the findings of investigators which prompted the prosecution not to prosecute as very unusual.

The case was the subject of two parliamentary inquiries, whose extensive reports allege that NLB bankers failed to exercise due oversight and abused their powers at last in the case of some transactions, said Vrtovec.

The police said that that Tuesday's session of the Home Affairs Committee was attended by Police Commissioner Bobnar, who is the NBI director's superior, and director of criminal police Boštjan Lindav.

The police noted that it was the criminal police and not NBI investigators which in 2010 and 2011 handled the case of alleged money laundering at NLB.

Bobnar noted that the police directorate had reviewed police activities in that case 2017 and that the guidelines issued by the then interior minister in connection to that had been fully implemented.

She said that the special department of the specialised prosecution service had rejected a criminal complaint filed against criminal police investigators over the case.

Bobnar also said that the police performed their duties in accordance with the standards of evidence, in compliance with the constitution, penal code and the criminal procedure act and as an independent body whose work in the pre-trial procedure can only be directed by the state prosecutor in charge.

A specialised investigation group formed in 2017 and comprising representatives of the NBI, Office for Money Laundering Prevention and the central bank drew up a plan of work in the Farrokh case to look into suspected criminal offences, including money laundering, terrorism financing and abuse of office.

In the case pertaining to suspected abuse of office, the state prosecutor in charge issued a decision in July 2019 rejecting the criminal complaint by the parliamentary inquiry.

However, Bobnar noted that the specialised investigation group continued work in connection to other suspected criminal offences in the case.

All our stories on money laundering are here, while those on Iran are here

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