Three Georgia-based Iranians and several of their companies, registered in Georgia and in some other countries, are among individuals and entities included by the U.S. Treasury Department in Iran sanctions evader list.
The list, published on February 6, includes over thirty entities and individuals located in eight countries, which, the U.S. Treasury claims, were helping to evade sanctions against Iran.
Among them are Georgia-based individuals, Pourya Nayebi; Houshang Hosseinpour, and Houshang Farsoudeh and eight companies owned or controlled by them; at least two of these companies are registered in Georgia and some others have alternate addresses in various locations in Georgia.
“The Government of Georgia has worked closely with the United States to detect and address illicit and deceptive Iranian behavior in Georgia, and it has taken steps to ensure that Iranian entities under U.S. and international sanctions are prevented from exploiting the Georgian financial system,” the U.S. Department of Treasury said in a statement on February 6.
The U.S. Treasury, which oversees sanctions enforcement, accused three Georgia-based individuals and entities affiliated to them of helping Iran circumvent sanctions on financial transactions.
“These three individuals have established companies and financial institutions in multiple countries, and have used these companies to facilitate deceptive transactions for or on behalf of persons subject to U.S. sanctions concerning Iran,” it said.
In 2011 Pourya Nayebi, Houshang Hosseinpour, and Houshang Farsoudeh acquired 70% shares in Tbilisi-based bank, JSC InvestBank, through a Liechtenstein-based KSN Foundation.
The U.S. Treasury alleges that these three individuals used the bank “to facilitate transactions worth the equivalent of tens of millions of U.S. dollars” for blacklisted Iranian banks, including Bank Melli; Mir Business Bank; Bank Saderat, and Bank Tejarat.
In November, 2013 the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) put JSC InvestBank under temporary administration, citing “serious irregularities” in bank’s operations. The Georgian central bank at the time declined to specify details of “irregularities.”
The U.S. Treasury Department claims that Nayebi, Hosseinpour, and Farsoudeh “deceived” the financial regulatory authorities of Georgia by “withholding required reports of transactions” involving those Iranian banks, which are subject of sanctions.
The Wall Street Journal reported on February 6, quoting a senior U.S. Treasury official that the Georgian bank itself was not identified as a sanctions evader because Georgian authorities worked with the U.S. to “evict” the three individuals from the bank, and to “put the bank on track into more legitimate hands.”
Liechtenstein-based KSN Foundation is no longer listed among shareholders of the InvestBank, which still has a temporary administrator in its management.
Georgian-registered companies, which are included in the Iran sanctions evader list, and which are affiliated to three Georgia-based Iranian individuals, are Georgian Business Development, and Caucasus Energy.
Georgian Business Development is registered under the name of GBD FIZ in Poti free industrial zone; Pourya Nayebi is listed as its director in registration papers.
Caucasus Energy, registered in Tbilisi, is wholly owned by Houshang Hosseinpour. Caucasus Energy owns 40% in Tbilisi-based airlines, FlyGeorgia, in which Houshang Farsoudeh owns 25%; FlyGeorgia itself is not in the U.S. Treasury Department’s Iran sanctions evader list.