Former Iranian Central Bank Head Caught Smuggling $70 Million Bank Of Venezuela Check Into Germany

Tyler Durden's picture

week ago we described the sad tale of one Mahmoud Bahmani, who until recently supervised the unilateral destruction of the Iranian Rial, which on Friday just hit an all time low against the dollar down 21% in two weeks, as head of the Iranian central bank. While his currency-crushing performance would have been enough to get Mahmoud the "congressional medal of inflating away the debt" (not to mention a lifetime corner office at a TBTF bank of his choosing) at any self-respecting "developed world" banana republic, all of which have just one goal - to crush their currencies as Iran just did, in Iran it had precisely the opposite effect and let to his prompt termination. Yet this story is merely a trifle compared to the recent developments surrounding his predecessor, Tahmasb Mazaheri's, who led the Iranian central bank for just one year until September 2008, at which point Ahmadinejad fired him to make way for the recently laid off Bahmani. It is this same Mazaheri, who had been off the world's radar for over 4 years, until he trimumphantly resurfaced yesterday, when German Bild reported that he was caught last month trying to enter Germany with a check for 300 million Venezuelan Bolivars (some $70 million USD) issued by the Venezuelan Central Bank.

From AP:

The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reports that a man caught last month trying to enter Germany with a check worth about $70 million was Iran's former central bank chief.


The weekly reports that customs officials at Duesseldorf airport found the check in Tahmasb Mazaheri's luggage Jan. 21 upon his arrival from Turkey.


German customs had issued a statement Friday saying a check for 300 million Venezuelan Bolivars issued by the Bank of Venezuela was found on an unnamed 59-year-old man.


Neither customs officials nor Iran's embassy could be reached for comment late Saturday.


Mazaheri was the governor of the Central Bank of Iran until 2008.


Bild am Sonntag reported in its Sunday edition that German police and customs are investigating possible money laundering.

Superficially, this raises many questions:

  • Why would a former Iranian central banker need to physically launder money into Germany, where any deposit of a check of this magnitude, and especially in this currency, would raise more than a few eyebrows?
  • Why did Venezuela, best known in the international monetary arena for being the first country to repatriate its gold several years ago, well before the Bundesbank, use a former Iranian central banker to launder money, if indeed this was mere money laundering?
  • Why did Venezuela have anything in common with an Iranian to begin with?
  • What would the use of funds of this check deposit have been had it gone through, and how many times in the past has Venezuela deposited massive checks of this magnitude in the past?

Many questions, no answers, at least for now: the people demand to know.

For those interested in Mazaheri's background and the circumstances surrounding his termination, here is some additional information from Arash Sigarchi:

While the differences between Iran’s ex-Central Bank governor and the President were so ‎deep that Ahmadinejad could not even wait to return to Tehran to issue his dismissal of ‎governor Tahmaseb Mazaheri and replace him with Mahmoud Bahmani, which he did ‎from New York, there already are reports of differences in views between the President ‎and his newly appointed governor.‎


President Ahmadinejad kept Mazaheri as Central Bank governor for only one year and ‎when he replaced him it was to “streamline his economics team”, but the official Fars ‎news agency which had predicted Mazaheri’s dismissal weeks in advance, published ‎reports yesterday that Hossein Samsami may be appointed as the deputy governor of the ‎Central Bank of Iran (CBI).‎


Samsami is the nephew of Parviz Dawoodi, Iran’s first vice-president and while Fars ‎news agency conditioned the finalization of Samsami’s ascend at the CBI to a ‎‎“confirmation by the governor,” news reports indicate that Mazaheri is not keen on doing ‎this. Entekhab news website on Sunday quoted an “informed source” that vice-president ‎Dawoodi’s request to elevate Samsami to be governor Bahmani’s deputy has met a ‎hurdle as the newly appointed CBI chief is refraining from appointing him. The news site ‎concludes that with this level of opposition by Bahmani, his own status may be reduced ‎to that of a deputy at the CBI.‎


While it seems doubtful that President Ahmadinejad would rescind his newly appointed ‎CBI governor so quickly, Entekhab websites report indicates the regret of the cabinet in ‎appointing Bahmani to lead the bank. Contrary to public views, Bahmani as an architect ‎of the new policies at CBI is even more adamant on its implementation than his just ‎dismissed boss, i.e. governor Mazaheri. His resistance and relative independence in ‎dealing with Samsami so far has disarrayed the cabinet prompting it to think that the new ‎governor may actually not change course at the bank and its monetary policies after all.‎


As tensions at the CBI and over its policies and leadership continue at a time when the ‎official ILNA labor news agency reported that, “Some senior CBI directors had ‎submitted their resignations because of pressures at the Central Bank.” This news agency ‎too mentioned Dawoodi’s pressure on Bahmani over Samsami and wrote, “While Dr ‎Bahmani has refrained from accepting the pressures in this regard, but it is heard that ‎Samsami is already exerting his presence in all quarters of the bank. According to some ‎reports a group of CBI directors who had joined the bank recently have resigned in ‎protest to Samsami’s expanding control.”‎


The problems at the central bank have not remained confined to the presidency, the ‎cabinet and the bank, as the Majlis too has joined in the game. First, Majlis’ Research ‎Center which works under Tavakoli recently announced its expert opinion on CBI’s ‎controversial policy package which led to the downfall of governor Mazaheri, and on the ‎resolution of the economics commission of the cabinet. The center announced that, “The ‎government should not intervene in monetary and banking policy making.” Following ‎that, Majlis speaker Larijani actually criticized the change of guard at the CBI and said, ‎‎“It is not good that individuals be replaced or removed from office so quickly,” which is ‎a direct reference to the removal of the CBI governor.

And from PressTV as of March 2009:

A former Iranian official warns that the implementation of the government's economic reforms plan would deteriorate the financial system.


Tahmasb Mazaheri, the former governor of Iran's Central Bank, told Tabnak on Saturday that if the current proposals were hastily implemented, the inflation rate would skyrocket, possibly reaching to as high as 40 percent in the first year.


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government is pushing through a plan under which the state subsidies for fuel, natural gas and electricity would be cut. The government instead would distribute cash among low-income families to compensate for the price hike caused by the plan.


Mazaheri, however, argued that since there are no proper mechanisms in place to improve the business activities in the country, the price hike would force the government and Majlis to take steps which would further increase the inflation rate.


Mazaheri said government employees who have a fixed income as well as businessmen and enterprises that have to work in a competitive market are most vulnerable to the negative impacts of the economic reforms plan.


Supporters of the plan say it is in line with global financial organizations' recommendations that Iran get rid of a heavily subsidized economy if it wants to solve its economic problems.


The former official said the plan would damage the country's economic structure and people's confidence. Such a scenario, according to Mazaheri, would shake the fundamentals of Iran's economic system and would lead to economic disintegration.


The former governor of Iran's Central Bank also dismissed the argument of the proponent of the plan that after a hike in the inflation rate following the implementation of the plan, it would be decreased to a single digit figure.


"The implementation of the plan would accelerate the trend of increase in the inflation rate," Mazaheri said.


The government's plan which sparked heated debates among its opponents and proponents is awaiting an approval by the Iranian parliament Majlis.

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maxmad's picture

hmmm... lets think this one through... Iraninan Central Banker partially responsible for the hyperinflation is caught in Germany with Venezualen checks... You cant make this stuff up!  Welcome to WWIII

maxmad's picture

Sounds like something big is about to go down!  Rats jumping..

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

I'm curious to know who tipped off the German border police? Unless the check was pinned to his lapel, it seems unlikely that it would have been found otherwise.

maxmad's picture

I wonder if there was a code (bar code) or something on the check... If so, their screening would pick it up... Similar to the way our scanners know how much money you are traveling with...

CPL's picture

RFID obviously.  Large checks have them embedded.  On your smart phone you can scan for any in range with a couple of apps.  Heard about gangsters using it to mark targets, all rumour of course.

Bananamerican's picture

"...a man caught last month trying to enter Germany with a check worth about $70 million was Iran's former central bank chief"


at this point, i just assume that anyone who goes into Government work, SUCKS

john39's picture

contrast Iranian President Achmadinidad with the criminal fascist pigs in the west:

and just in case you are confused, just trust the US gov and MSM, Achmadinijad is the blood thirsty crazy that must be stopped.

SafelyGraze's picture

just deposit the damned check ASAP so that the EMU can limp through the first week of february


krispkritter's picture

 "A check? Why heck yeah I can write you a check! I thought you needed money..." Jeff Foxworthy. Maybe they needed the tungsten on it's way back from the Fed...

caconhma's picture

Why does anybody need to carry a check for such large amount of money? Something funny is going on.

IMHO, it was planted. It was a clear provocation. If needed, both Venezuela, Iran or anybody else could use a diplomatic carrier to move check and/or any other important/valuable/secret items.





toady's picture

The 'something funny' is the US/UN sanctions. I imagine everyone in the Iranian financial universe is jumping through hoops to keep their finances from disappearing.

I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a nuke today.

misterb4096's picture

That's a myth, believe me. You can put huge amounts of cash in a carry on bag and go right through TSA with it. Unless they open the bag to remove your nose trimmer or mouthwash, they'll never find it. The previous comment about them being tipped off is probably correct.

nonclaim's picture

The TSA person may not see it or may not care but cash notes and a lot of other things are clearly shown on modern x-ray/scanner machines. We had two in our building entrance (10 years ago; I'm no longer there) and the display was slightly tilted so we could see it too... it was awesome as technology but it meant absolute zero privacy for your things. [People would go through "normal" metal detectors.]

Back on topic, yes he was probably denounced/followed but the check could as easily be shown as bright red on the scanner...

CPL's picture

Please speak slowly and clearly into my lapel.

supermaxedout's picture

Thing is he is a former high ranking Iranian official. So its clear they will turn him upside down in Germany. And thats why it is well possible that he was framed. The US does not like that such kind of persons do travel freely from Venezuela via Germany to Iran. They want to stop it.

CPL's picture

JPM for the DAX merger.


Only thing happening after the 23rd of January

maxmad's picture

Its been a bad few weeks for Imanutjob!  First Fordow gets crippled, then the Israelis attack your Buddy Syria, your bankster buddy gets caught in Germany with checks from Venezula?  And all you can do is sit by and watch it happen because you are truly a "big bark with no bite" kinda dog!

czarangelus's picture

Fool. Every day Iran delays its response, they grow stronger and the Western Axis grows weaker. When Iran lays waste to the Saudi oil fields and economic life in the USA goes into cardiac arrest, don't say you weren't warned.

maxmad's picture

If they did that then at least they would have some sort of balls...

john39's picture

is-ra-el bombed syria because is-ra-el is getting desperate to start its big war...  its mercenaries are getting crushed in syria...  is-ra-el is in trouble and will soon do something very stupid.

maxmad's picture

Well so far they have Imanutjob very well! He is in way overis head! He should stick to wars like Iraq!!! Lol!

john39's picture

frankly, the Iranian government seems to be handling the situation pretty wisely in my opinion.  The US and Israel have been trying to bait Iran into doing something stupid for years... so far, no dice...   clearly the quality of Iran's leadership is well above the useful idiots that are occupying U.S. government positions...  and certainly superior to the criminal thugs that run is-ra-el.

maxmad's picture

Yep thats why Their nuclear capabilities are now in shambles! But yeah their Playing it well!

Terminus C's picture

You must be a moron with zero strategic understanding.

If you are a much 'smaller' man in a fight you need to be very careful in your attacks.  You need to be on the defensive and minimize damage taken until you have an opportunity for a decisive strike.  Showing 'balls' only gets you killed.  Your derision only shows your stupidity.

maxmad's picture

Or if YOUR a coward you just sit back and take it!!

Pure Evil's picture

Or, you crawl under your desk and hide behind a chair and wastebasket waiting for DHS to swoop in and hopefully save your ass at the first sign an "active shooter" start roaming your office hallways.

Undoubtedly, the film put out by DHS showing how to behave when an active shooter is on the loose in your office complex is either intended as an instructional video, or an omen of things to come. I can only guess that in order to push "Forward" their agenda of gun confiscation we can now assume that psyhcotropic manchurian sleeper agents will soon be let loose across the fruited plain to unleash blood and mayhem while DHS sits back and says, "told you so".

ArmchairRevolutionary's picture

This is a long term chess game, something you would not play very well.

maxmad's picture

A long term chess match or Iran having no pieces left!!!

maxmad's picture

Yep. Sounds like Charlie Sheen! Winning!

Fordow destroyed. Winning
Syria attacked. Winning

jballz's picture

Your contributions here have dropped the average iq of the comment section by seven points.

JLee2027's picture

Now what kind of government searches your luggage and looks at checks?

francis_sawyer's picture

In the US... They'd be too busy searching your bodily cavities & staring at pornographic x-rays...

Pure Evil's picture

And, LOSER, stamped across his forhead.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

In Soviet Amerika, check cashes YOU!

steve from virginia's picture



He would have been okay getting off the plane in New Orleans ...

Element's picture

oh dear ... would not like to be in his shoes.

booboo's picture

A better question would be "why would he not fold the check up, put in a condom and stuff it into his arshole for safe keeping until he could get through customs, what, was it one of those huge Publishers Clearing House checks? 

Drachma's picture

Listening to Hilary Cliton on Sirius Radio self-congratulating on a job well done in Iran, admitting to the use of banks, insurance companies, along with the usual covert military tactics ('soft' and 'hard' power in her own words) to perpetrate socioeconomic terrorism on the people of Iran, of course ostensibly to prevent the great nuclear threat that is Iran. I feel nauseous. She actually used the word 'declinist'. What is that?

Pure Evil's picture

Declinist: That's what happens when you ask your lesbian lover to squat over your face to pinch out a loaf. In her case her lesbian lover was constipated and squeezed to hard causing the rock hard turd to nearly bash in her skull causing the aforementioned blood clot on her brain.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Now THAT'S pretty evil, you picked the right name!

JoBob's picture

Pure Evil: You really know how to show your intellect. You can quit now.

Pure Evil's picture

Oh my, someone doesn't like my depraved sense of humor, what's an evil entity to do?

Leave Pure Evil Alone

(While watching this, replace Britney with Pure Evil)

Oldrepublic's picture

funny, I recall reading somewhere that Hitler was into that kind of stuff!!!

1942 OSS report regarding this practice with his late niece,who committed suicide

No Euros please we're British's picture

Does HSBC only have branches in Germany?

sampo's picture

Also, it seems that Switzerland wasn't he's choice anymore..

LeisureSmith's picture


 Supporters of the plan say it is in line with global financial organizations' recommendations that Iran get rid of a heavily subsidized economy if it wants to solve its economic problems.

Worked out great! You can always trust advice form global financial organizations.


icanhasbailout's picture

I'm confused - a check is not contraband, why would bringing it into Germany be "smuggling"?