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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CPL's picture

Exactly.  Why would it?

TotalCarp's picture

There is a lot of giggling in Russian blogosphere about iranians needing to get some lessons from russian corrupt regional officials who squirrel far more then 70 bux out of the country daily.

BigJim's picture

Because he's Iranian, silly.

Oldrepublic's picture

probably same as US law regarding importation or exportation of financial instruments of over USD 10,000

note from Germany custom website

currency - no restrictions if coming from EU country. Declarable for all travelling outside EU when the amount exceeds 10.000 euro or equivalent in another currency

Legal if declared, but he did not declare that check

Volaille de Bresse's picture

Only $70 Million?


You small player!

sampo's picture

So how much of this economic activity is there between these China - friendly oil - for - gold states?

Banksters's picture

Regarding Anonymous, this is what their function is, to catch hackers.



Anonymous teenage hacker spared jail over cyber attacks Some govt. 'brainiac' came up with the idea to come up with a hacker collective that would be appealing to today's youth.    One in four US hackers 'is an FBI informer'

The FBI and US secret service have used the threat of prison to create an army of info among online criminals



CPL's picture

Otherway around.  

With the collapse coming certain groups will need employees.  In IT we call it cherry picking talent.  Can't take them all.  BUT we'll take the sharpest that can think on their feet outside of a government employee framework.  Stuff will still have to be fixed after the fact and private sector is short bodies for the work that needs to be done.

Sys Admin = Hacker

Hacker = Sys Admin

Government Spook = Sys Admin

This is also their performance evaluation.

Banksters's picture

Probably some truth to what you are saying.   Regardless, Anonymous is a fishing net to catch hackers.

Kinda sad really, that retards would buy into the whole bullshit paddy.   


If people want to take actions, the safest way is on your own- the true anarchist credo.  

CPL's picture

Exactly.  Since when in the history of computers has a hacker revealed themselves except for a handful of purposes.

  1. Accident: They were too slow and sloppy then got caught.
  2. Retirement:  Done with it and use their professional skills for important things like voluenteering, building businesses and expanding their communities knowledge of safer, stable and rational processes.

Between number 1 and 2 is the path and it's faceless, should never cause annoyance to the operator at the other end.  Silent and avoiding cheap hacks plus sticking to the five unpatchables to remain so.  Knowledge for the sake of it.  Unfortunately it, conceptual hackers, don't look like a nubile Angelia Jolie in the movie hackers, although everyone in STEM wishes it did.

Besides, all that talent stockpiled in government buildings.  I'm not talking log scanners and the powerpoint PM's, although they have a purpose but there are lots starving now on the street.  I'm talking the builders, makers and dreamers.  The real horsepower.  Imagine what they could do with helping improve water efficiencies in a town.  Load distribution on a power plant.  They see art in numbers, they see solutions and they are the right age.  STEM is getting old (in two years on industry avg.) and most of them are about the right age/experience to understand the systems that need to be maintained.  Even then, there will still be too few for the tasks.

Society should sooner burn down an art gallery than lose the opportunity for keeping the knowledge found.  It took the human race 1600 years before the concept of an assembly line was rediscovered.  We cannot lose all that knowledge again.  The cost to obtain all that knowledge we have now was/is very costly and takes generations.  

Personally I believe it's worth it to have the technology to take a shit on the second floor of a house, individual results will vary.

Obama4Ever's picture

Good lord, what position is ZH taking here?

Iran is suffering under economic sanctions. Naturally this is going to cause their currency to devalue relative to the dollar. To blame currency collapse on some guy inside Iran responsible for keeping their economy going is ridiculous propaganda.

How about another explanation: High ups in Iran are simply trying to support their country's right to exist in the global economy and are doing what they can to bypass sanctions.

WTF is ZH becoming? A propaganda tool for the status quo?

(Apologies on breaking character here) Rah rah obama!

Terminus C's picture

Should they suck up to one set of elites just because they are against another set of elites?  The 'leaders' of Iran are just as sociopathic as the elites of any country.  There are no 'good guys'.

smartstrike's picture

What took you so long to figure ZH out? It took me just several weeks to deduce that it was some kind of a tool when it first started with it expose on banking and market fraud. That was a hook!!!!This is a propaganda site. It's agenda is no different than that of many other financial sites: its spreads Koch brothers, Peterson Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Foundation no-liberitarain lies.

ZH purports to promote individual's rights--the truth is that it throws them under a bus.

IEVI's picture

If you believe this is a propaganda site what are you doing here? Don't you have something better to do on Sunday afternoon?

Pure Evil's picture

So, that's what those fresh black skid marks were. Shame on you ZH for throwing us under the bus.

Folks, we've all been fooled. Never again!

Let's head back to Obama's website and worship him like a god. He deserves it and we know he would never throw us under a bus, he loves us like his own children.

(OK, forget about these people, they deserved it)

Now back to loving Obama with a new rousing chorus of:


jmcadg's picture

you been around these parts a good while right ... like 24 weeks!

JR's picture


The Iranian people are the latest in a long line of targets for this constant demonizing to benefit the banking cartel and their Zionist sidekicks -- demonizing Syria, demonizing Iraq, demonizing Islam, demonizing the Russians, the Palestinians, the Germans. It’s the continuing prelude to incessant war.

And, now, demonizing American citizens who would sympathize with the plight of the innocent victims of this Zionist march to world control!

Zero Hedge, why not an article on Obama’s policy of killing anyone, anywhere, in the world without any justification under law or human decency? Where is Obama’s authority to use drones to kill people in countries in which we are not at war: Pakistan , Yemen and all the rest?

Where is the outrage that Obama’s legal support for attacking American citizens has not been given court review? In fact, the Obama Administration says it has its own legal evaluation for this targeting but refuses to even release what those legal reasons are.

This is complete dictatorship! And the Congress is completely worthless in protecting either American citizens or their property. Surely, Zero Hedge doesn’t want to come down in support of this continued demonization of innocent people!

Oldrepublic's picture

Jim Willie on his last podcast wirth TF metals report spoke for 70 minutes regarding this topic, very very interesting regarding his forecast for the end of the Petro dollar regime

Banksters's picture


Suicide bomb and gun attack kills 33 in Kirkuk, Iraq Mission accomplished!


tnquake's picture

Wonder if the bank in Venezeula filled out a CTR or something equivalent.

F@@BAR is the new normal!

1C3-N1N3's picture

The check had four sets of handwriting and was signed "Wal Mart". The memo line contained a misspelling of the Farsi word for "rent".

Bandit und Buster's picture

Exactly MY question also Trav!  Why aren't they saying who the payee is?  Are we  to assume it was the carrier?

Banksters's picture

And then we have this nonsense.




Anonymous distances itself from WikiLeaks

Hacker collective says whistleblowers website has become the 'Julian Assange show'

.   I would call this Big time wrestling, govt. style.   Weak leaks and Anonymous, two govt groups   vying for arrests.







TNTARG's picture

Well, many sources tell Anonymus is financed by CIA and Mossad.

Some of many links...

Modus operandi and esthetic also leds me to believe they may be.

And the treatment given by corporate media. And those actions against the iranian government. The movie. And many other Anonymus' tracks lead me that way.

NoWayJose's picture

It should be obvious - he did such a great job devaluing the Iranian currency, so he is just helping devalue the Venezualan currency. Just get the Bank of Venezuala to issue big uncovered checks that get deposited in foreign banks where they can be converted to the local currency. Flood the world with Venezualan unbacked currency. You know, sort of like what Bernanke is doing.

TNTARG's picture

"Flood the world with Venezuelan unbacked currency"!

I think bolivars are better backed than the US dollar and the Euro. Look at their fundamentals, pal. (Venezuela's, USA, Europeans fundamentals).

Oh, yeah, right, US dollar and the Euro are backed up by NATO.

Venerability's picture

I very much disagree with the comments on the Venezuelan Gold repatriation.

I believe Venezuela has sent repatriated Gold to their Protector, China, to help launch its Gold ETF, which will be a stellar competitor to GLD, since China wants the backing of actual Gold, not Tungsten, Tin, or Milk Chocolate.

americanspirit's picture

Just goes to show you - any time you want to get a big check into Germany roll it up, tie it into a condom, and swallow that sucker.

JOYFUL's picture

A plane bound for Teheran with a flight plan originating in Ghana, impounded on the tarmac in Turkey carries 1.5 tons of gold...held, then released, without substantial reasons offered.

in the weeks before G-Daffs' final cornering, rumor of a convoy of bullion bearing trucks making tracks through the desert on a course towards coast of  West Africa...

boats crossing the Red Sea with contraband gold out of Afreaka, on the traditional smugglers route towards Hormuz...

Mohammar's real weapon of mass destruction...the Gold Dinar...was it already minted, and ready for distribution at the time of Chavez' repatriation request? Did segments of that run leave ports in Ghana\Senegal for a direct run across the pond to Maracaibo?

Or did the convoy never make it out of Mali? What are the French really doing in Afreaka right now?

Wild card...Krauts cut a back door deal through their Swiss oil broker cutout for Iranian oil under Venezuelan markings, using some of G'daffs impounded Swiss stash, quid pro quo with DC looking the other way in return for Bundesbank silence on the empty vaults where Hugos hoard was supposed to be.

Check gets hand delivered by Persian majic carpet salesman, but competing faction of Mossad-allied Deutsche Verteidigungs Dienst intercept on arrival.

Stuff happens!


supermaxedout's picture

Stuff happens.

The US army gives money to the Afghan government to purchase oil for the US army. Acording to RT the US admits, that it might be possible that some of the oil was purchased in Iran.

In my opinion well possible given the fragile transport situation through Pakistan were it often happens that trucks (sometimes complete fleets) with supply for the US army are destroyed.  What I know is, that the supply for the German army in Afghanistan (appx 5.000 soldiers) is reaching Northern Afghanistan via Rusian controlled areas. In principle the stuff is loaded on trucks in Germany and next stop is Afghanistan. Without the Russians consent and assitance the German operations would be not possible. Most probably the US army is also dependent somehow on the Russian assistance.  This would explain why the US is not giving full assistance to the Syrian rebels. Then the Russians might turn 180` in Afghanistan away from assisting the Nato/US adventure to active confrontation.

On the other side it is not possible for simple Iranians living and working abroad (be it in US, Europe or anywhere else under Western control) to send money home to their families.  This is causing great problems and suiffering. 

shovelhead's picture

Is Droney going to send a get well message to Hugo?

steve from virginia's picture



Nothing like cutting off the supply of supposedly 'worthless' dollars to discover how much they are really worth! Right?


Like ... 21% more than they were yesterday ... or, is it 40%? In all the confusion I kinda lost track myself!


Note that the hyperinflationary episode here was a currency arbitrage: rials for dollars ... as such things always are.


Iran's real problem is its subsidies for its goddamned automobiles: it borrows dollars from its overseas customers ... to permanently exhaust its one-and-only form of capital by 'selling' (giving away) domestic gasoline for 25 cents per gallon. Needless to say, domestic fuel consumption in Iran is skyrocketing ... the demand is 'inelastic' in that cutting the subsidy is like Amadinajhad cutting his own throat.


Ditto, Venezuela ... subsides ... btw.



JR's picture

"Iran's real problem is its subsidies for its goddamned automobiles..."

Iran’s real problem is that it is plugged into a fraudulent economic order based on a corrupt world reserve monetary exchange system.

Unless the Iranians submit and surrender politically to have a puppet government control their oil supply and bow to the needs of Israel, their currency and economy will continue to be targeted, their people cordoned off from the rest of the world and starved via monetary and economic sanctions, resulting in the same fate as that of the 500,000 Iraqi children who died under the injustice of US sanctions posing to operate under an international market system.

How dare this international money system, under the control of the private owners of the Federal Reserve banking cartel, pretend to operate as legitimate as a "monetary system" as it destroys not only the sanctity of the individual and his property, nations and the rights of their people, the freedom of contract and the rule of law, but man's entire “system of natural liberty.”

This is worldwide economic dictatorship! May this monopolistic banking cartel, this self-called "Federal Reserve System" that is wreaking its havoc of starvation and death around the globe, soon rot in Hell.

“Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life…it is the control of the means for all ends.” –F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

America! “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish by the sword (Matthew 26:54).”  For as you do unto others, it will be done unto you.

TheMerryPrankster's picture

CIa or Mossad was monitoring him, it would seem. No one just finds a check, unless they are tipped to look for it.

bugs_'s picture

Iran and Chavez have had an understanding for awhile.

Now Chavez is having health problems, doesn't show to be sworn in etc.  May already be room temperature.

Some in the Chavez inner circle, realizing that regime change brings risk to their personal fortunes, might seek to diversify their positions.

I doubt he was going to deposit the check in Germany - more likely a nearby country with a more receptive banking climate.

jmcadg's picture

I'm guessing you're related to Netenyahu. He's a trigger happy cocksucker.

css1971's picture

Surely he's just sanctions busting?

i.e. German companies (mired in recession) are shipping... arms? to Iran and getting paid through Venezuelan banks.

Oh BTW, the sanctions... Working a treat. Iran just announced their first stealth fighter. This is a similar effect to the sanctions against South Africa which turned them into a world leading artillery producer.

swanpoint's picture

70M, child's play.. Don Johnson got caught in Germany with 8,000M not too long ago.

Launder? Probably more like Bribery



waterwitch's picture

Why didn't he just send the check through the mail to an address in Germany? Cashing it might be an issue of course, but seems like he would have at least gotten it.

JR's picture

Amazing how all the world is corrupt except the spawn of the evil Fed, isn't it? Wonder where Hank Paulson, Maurice Greenberg, Lloyd Blankfein, Jon Corsine and all the rest of the former insolvents cash their checks?  You know, those Humpty Dumpties put together again by the Federal Reserve who are now richer than ever, the likes of Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup, AIG, Credit Suisse, et al.?

Oldrepublic's picture

yes in the US and the EU it is a crime not to declare such a check.

Peter Pan's picture

I guess it's cheque mate for now.

r3phl0x's picture

Should have used Bitcoin.

mt paul's picture

at least it wasn't 

a trillion dollar coin ..

Son of Loki's picture

What a MOFO he is ! Customs always gives me a hard time when I re-enter the country I can afford over $10,000 ?!? I barely have enough to buy a Snickers bar at the airport now that chocolate has tripled in price due to the "non-inflationary" economy. At least the drinking fountain water is still free....for now.


While some Aliens carry suitcases of $$$ to buy a house ...the system is messed up.

jonjon831983's picture

You'd think depositing moving money in that amount would be flagged.


Assuming this is not a solo self serving act of money laundering -  I don't see what's too big of a stretch of an Iranian + Venezuelan connection.  Chavez openly declared his support for Iran/Syria.

The question as mentioned in the post is what would have been done with the money once cashed.

ItsDanger's picture

“You can follow the action, which gets you good pictures. You can follow your instincts, which will probably get you in trouble. Or, you can follow the money, which nine times out of ten will get you closer to the truth.”

They Tried to Steal My Gold's picture

The West used to be creative and even somewhat well thought out when they would come up with steering public option and framing adversaries with trumped up charges....


Over the last 5 years theyve gone straight to the preposterous....


Thanks this as beleievable as a SuperBowl being delayed with half the stadium being without lights to stop one's team momentum....



dunce's picture

Sounds to me like someone is looting Venzuela's treasury while Chavez's body is in Cuba. They did not want to use regular channels and be traced by audit when the new government takes over.

tyrone's picture

Exactly!!! Besides that check was destined for a swiss account, not a german one