Iran financing Hezbollah with gold smuggled from Venezuela – report

The smuggling route was revealed in May by a joint investigation of several Israeli authorities.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A joint investigation by several Israeli authorities exposed last May a “gold” route Iran uses to finance its Hezbollah terrorist proxy in Lebanon, Walla reported Sunday.

A document signed by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant reveals that dozens of kilograms of gold were smuggled from Venezuela into Iran via a Mahan Air flight to Tehran, where the precious metal was sold and the proceeds sent to Hezbollah, which has close ties to the Venezuelan regime itself.

Mahan Air is sanctioned by the Americans as a body that cooperates with the Quds Force, the foreign operating arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), both of which are listed as terrorist organizations on the U.S. sanctions list.

The primary actor in this illegal activity, security sources told Walla, is Badr ad-Din Naimi Mousavi, an Iranian businessman whose legitimate companies include two real estate businesses in the UK and an international trading company in Dubai.

Mousavi is also a member of the Quds Force, according to the sources, and uses his business and political connections in Venezuela to get the gold air-freighted to Tehran. He is reportedly helped by senior Hezbollah officials who are also on the proscribed list of the American Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The bodies involved in the investigation include Israel’s intelligence agencies, the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF) in the Ministry of Defense, the police, the Tax Authority and the Authority for the Prohibition of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing.

This is not the first time that this smuggling activity has been publicized.

Last December, the London-based Iran International opposition group reported that the prestigious Lloyds’ shipping insurance company tipped off its clients in a confidential warning that the IRGC and Hezbollah were circumventing sanctions by an Iranian deal with Caracas to pay for oil products it sends to Venezuela in gold.

After the gold reaches Tehran it is sent to Turkey to be sold and then the laundered cash goes on to Lebanese terror organization, the opposition group said.

Venezuelan companies, government and military personnel feature prominently on the U.S. sanctions list as well. Most of the current names are proscribed for their roles in myriad human rights violations under the authoritarian regimes of the late Hugo Chavez and his current, hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro.

There have been economic sanctions in place for the last four years on both its petroleum and gold industries, among others, but Venezuela, which is sitting on the world’s largest oil reserve, has managed to stay afloat by selling mostly to China, and trading its oil in Europe for debt relief.

As a U.S. foe, it also does brisk trade with Iran, and has expanded its political, military, and scientific cooperation with the Islamic Republic over recent years. Last June, the two countries signed a 20-year cooperation agreement in Tehran, and in September it was revealed that the Maduro regime had granted nearly 4,000 square miles of farmland to Tehran.

Although it was ostensibly provided for growing crops to feed Iranians, considering the government’s close ties with Hezbollah, the possibility was raised that it could at least partly be used to secretly train Hezbollah and IRGC forces.

The post Iran financing Hezbollah with gold smuggled from Venezuela – report appeared first on World Israel News.

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