DUSHANBE, June 17, 2015, Asia-Plus – Hussein Dehdashti, one of members of the special committee for investigation into Babak Zanjani’s case, has told Iranian newspaper Shargh in an interview that 1/15 of Babak Zanjani’s capital is now in Tajikistan.

The investigative committee to find the money allegedly embezzled by Babak Zanjani was reportedly set up in 2013.

We will recall that Iran’s investigative authorities said in April that property and assets belonging to Babak Zanjani in Tajikistan have been revealed and they are currently waiting for lifting of Western sanctions for retrieving them to Iran.

According to Iranian media outlets, Hussein Dehdashti informed Iranian parliamentarians about that.  According to him, a part of Zanjani’s property in Tajikistan has already been revealed and all necessary documents have been submitted to Tajikistan’s judicial authorities.

Zanjani’s property and assets in Tajikistan have reportedly been revealed in the course of an unofficial inspection carried out by representatives of the investigative committee in Tajikistan.   

A Washington-based media  Al-Monitor  reported on April 9, 2014 that Iranian newspaper  Shargh’s  Amene Shirafkan spoke to members of parliament’s Article 90 Committee and other officials involved in the high profile case.

The investigative team dispatched by Iran’s judiciary to Turkey, Tajikistan and Malaysia has reportedly revealed other assets belonging to Babak Zanjani.  At one time, Zanjani claimed to be worth $14 billion.  He became famous for talking casually about this wealth with BBC Persian, posting pictures of the hotels and airlines that he owned on Facebook.

Despite Zanjani’s claims that he was unable to transfer the money [US$2.6 billion] to Iran due to sanctions, an Iranian investigative team has reportedly revealed that Babak Zanjani''s money was never blocked in foreign banks.

In September 2013, Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh put the amount Zanjani owed to the Oil Ministry at US$2 billion.  Before his arrest in December 2013, Zanjani said that he was unable to transfer the money due to sanctions.

Shargh  reported that accusations against Zanjani are not limited to the debt to the Oil Ministry.  He has been mentioned as being involved in corruption at the Social Security Organization.  According to  Shargh , it seems that he was eventually prevented from purchasing businesses and factories belonging to the organization, one of the most well funded in Iran.

Meanwhile, the head of the State Committee on Investment and State-owned Property Management of Tajikistan (GosKomInvest), Qodir Qosim, has claimed that Iranian tycoon Babak Zanjani has never invested in Tajikistan.

“Iranian businessman Babak Zanjani has no property in Tajikistan,” Qodir Qosim told reporters in Dushanbe on January 27, 2015, noting that Babak Zanjani participated in an official opening of the Dushanbe renovated bus terminal on March 12, 2013 as a honorable guest but not as an investor.    

Some sources, however, say Babak Zanjani’s Tajik empire includes a bank, an airline, a taxi service and a bus terminal.

In April 2013, Zanjani and his business conglomerate Sorinet were sanctioned by the US Treasury.  He was tasked under the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad administration with helping Iran evade sanctions by selling its oil and transferring the money through overseas banks.

Dubai-based Sorinet Commercial Trust Bankers (SCT Bankers) and Malaysia-based First Islamic Investment Bank (FIIB) were reportedly designated for providing financial, material, technological or other support for Naftiran Intertrade Company Ltd (NICO) and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).

Turkey-based Kont Kozmetik was designated for being owned or controlled by Babak Zanjani. 

Founded by Zanjani in 2007, Kont Kozmetik in 2011 bought Kont Investment Bank in Tajikistan.  Kont Investment Bank owns 100 percent of shares in Asian Express Airline, which on its part, assumes the 100 percent ownership in Dushanbe’s Bus Terminal.

Representatives of Kont Investment Bank do not deny that Kont Invest Bank was founded by Babak Zanjani, but they say that now a Turkish citizen assumes the 100 percent ownership interest in Kont Investment Bank.

Babak Zanjani was arrested by Iranian police on December 30, 2013 for his alleged role in a corruption scandal.  Some days later, a spokesman from the National Bank of Tajikistan (NBT), Abdughaffor Qurbonov, denied any cooperation between Zanjani and the bank and claimed all documents presented by Zanjani about their two-way communications were fake.

Some media sources reported at the beginning of this year that Iranian legislator Amir Abbas Soltani, who is a member of the investigative committee to find the money allegedly embezzled by Babak Zanjani, said that Zanjani’s representative had paid 3 million U.S. dollars to one of deputy heads of Tajik central bank for falsification of money transfer documents.

Besides, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh reportedly said in an interview on state television on August 11, 2014 that Zanjani used the Tajikistan branch of his own bank, First Islamic Investment Bank, to funnel the money out of Iran.

Tajik central bank denied allegations that Iranian tycoon Babak Zanjani gave bribe to one of deputy heads of Tajik central bank as absolutely baseless.

“We have repeatedly denied any cooperation between Zanjani and Tajik central bank,” NBT former head Abdujabbor Shirinov stated at a news conference in Dushanbe on January 20, 2015.