Reuters report that Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, chairman of Pilatus Bank is under arrest in the United States accused of participating in a scheme to evade U.S. sanctions and funnel more than $115 million paid under a Venezuelan construction contract through the U.S. financial system.
The United States have indicted Ali Sadr, 38, in a six-count indictment filed in federal court in Manhattan accusing him of a role in a scheme to evade U.S. economic sanctions against Iran, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Sadr’s family controlled an Iranian conglomerate called Stratus Group, which had international business operations and that led a project to construct thousands of housing units in Venezuela.
The project stemmed from agreements that Iran and Venezuela entered into in 2004 and 2005 calling for cooperation between the two governments in constructing housing units in the South American country.
The indictment said an Iranian company that Stratus incorporated called Iranian International Housing Corporation entered into a $476 million deal in 2006 with a Venezuelan state-owned energy company to build 7,000 housing units.
Sadr belonged to a committee overseeing the project’s execution, prosecutors said.
They said Sadr took steps as part of the project to evade U.S. economic sanctions by concealing the role of Iran and Iranian parties in payments sent through the U.S. banking system.
“As alleged, Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad created a network of front companies and foreign bank accounts to mask Iranian business dealings in Venezuela and evade U.S. sanctions,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.
The Venezuelan energy company made $115 million in payments to Iranian International Housing Corporation using entities in Switzerland and Turkey to conceal the Iranian connection to the funds, prosecutors said.