Venezuela keeps outsourcing corruption to Iran


    An email from someone alleging to represent a construction company from Iraq made its way into my inbox recently:

    Hello & Salam Elicum, I was referred to you from our Business Representative Manager in Venezuela.

    I’m the South America Regional Director of Al-Bilal Group, we are a large construction company in the Middle East as you can see on our website.

    We were just approached for cooperation for a major construction project by a construction company in Caracas region.

    Object of the project was designing 6 governmental buildings. (full renewal construction works)

    The name of this company is Kayson. They are iranian construction company that made a fortune on Venezuelan construction market under Chavez regime.  

    We were invited to participate in this huge construction project by Kayson because our company have one of the best cost-effective construction designing department, and we have a very good professional reputation. 

    Since the contract for the project would be signed between Kayson Iran and Government Authorities without Al-Bilal Group name to be involved, as we will be just a sub-contractor of Kayson, we want to make sure they have good record, and know how to get paid in this not easy political and economical environment. 

    We wish to run a small local investigation in order to confirm Kayson position in the market, with the Maduro administration and general reputation, and for this we wish to contract you and your team.

    Please reply if you are able to help us. Time frame for such inquiry and your fees, as our top management board need to decide soon on this project cooperation.

    Awaiting your information and looking fwd talking to you in person.

    Kayson made worldwide news last year, as reported by AP:

    Iran's ambassador to Venezuela said Tuesday that a check worth about $70 million, found by German authorities in the luggage of Iran's former central bank chief, was going to be used by an Iranian company for its expenses while building public housing in Venezuela.

    Iranian Ambassador Hojattolah Soltani made the remarks in an interview with the Venezuelan television channel Globovision, saying the check for 300 million Venezuelan bolivars was to be used for the expenses of the Kayson Company, a Tehran-based construction business that is building thousands of homes for the Venezuelan government.

    The Iranian ambassador noted that the man with the check whom German authorities stopped last month is not currently a government official. Soltani said that Tahmasb Mazaheri, a former chief of Iran's central bank and former economy minister, has been working as an adviser to the Iranian company.

    Venezuelan authorities had to comment on the issue, and stressed that everything was above board. The Iranian Ambassador to Caracas would later recant his opinion, as cited by AP above, saying about the caught check-courier "[he] is by no means an official of the Government (of Iran); neither has his name been affixed to the confiscated check", and adding that the check "was signed in Iran and Mr. Mazaheri was on his way to Venezuela to bring the check to cash it in Banco Venezuela." 

    So Mazaheri, who is not an official of the Government of Iran as per Iran's Ambassador to Venezuela claims, was entrusted to carry a check worth $70 million, just like that? Mazaheri was a director of Banco Internacional de Desarrollo, an OFAC-designated entity targeted by the U.S. Treasury Department "for providing or attempting to provide financial services to Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL)." The European Union also included the bank in its list of sanctioned entities involved in "nuclear or ballistic missiles activities." 

    The explanations provided by Iran's Ambassador and Kayson's representative in Caracas, of having used Mazaheri as a simple courier and that his company gets paid in Bolivares in Teheran, are laughable, to say the least. In fact, by the time Mazaheri was arrested in Feb. 2013, Kayson had been already struck off Venezuela's register of government contractors. And by the time the email above was sent to me earlier this month, Kayson's man had been caught in Germany, and yet Kayson is still looking for subcontractors to carry out construction of 6 governmental buildings in Venezuela?

    Platts provides a bit of background on Kayson:

    A consortium made up of Khatam ol-Anbia Reconstruction Headquarters, the engineering arm of the Revolutionary Guards, private Iranian company Kayson and the Mashhad-based Razavi group, reportedly paid $212 million for 61% of Petropars, which handles several phases of the South Pars development. 

    And readers of this site may remember what I wrote about Petropars a while ago:

    Published in Gaceta Oficial no. 39.577, on Monday 20 December 2010 (page 2 & 3), Hugo Chavez's lame duck congress announced the creation of a partnership ("empresa mixta"), with Petropars UK Limited, a London-based entity that is wholly-owned by Petropars Ltd [board]. Petropars UK Limited, and its parent company, are part of a list of sanctioned U.S. Department of the Treasury designated companies, determined to be controlled by the government of Iran. The designation is the first from the United States in implementing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929, and builds upon actions mandated by the Security Council.

    Seyyed Mehdi Mir Moezi, Gholamreza Manouchehri, and Nematollah Alirezaei are the names associated with Petropars UK Limited, whose records in Companies House show a Statement of Capital, dated 25 March 2010, of £100,000. In addition, records show the company as being dormant. In spite of this, Venezuela's congress has published creation of a partnership, between Venezuela's Corporation of Petroleum and Petropars Limited UK, whereby the latter is granted 25-years rights to exploration, production, transportation, and storage of petroleum, of a 353.15 square kilometre concession, located in Dobokubi oil field.

    And Venezuelan workers don't seem to be very happy with Kayson [another example here, and claims about 11 Kayson workers having been killed in Venezuela here]. This looks like another example of irresponsible contracting and outsourcing corruption by the chavista regime, but we have seen that before, haven't we

    May the gentleman who sent that email consider this post as a generous public service... 

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