Thursday, December 2, 2010


DE RUEHKB #0175/01 0650955
P 060955Z MAR 09

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 BAKU 000175


E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/08/2019

REF: A) BAKU 139 B) BAKU 132 C) BAKU 80 D) 2008 BAKU



¶1. (S) According to widespread rumor, many Iranians in Baku
are involved full- or part-time in Iranian regime-related
profit making, sanctions-busting, money laundering, and
similar activities. Activities range from assisting Iranian
interests "on the side" of pursuing private activities, to
working primarily for Iranian government entities. These
Iranians' formal businesses in Azerbaijan include factories,
construction companies, trading companies, and shops, some of
which may be hollow companies hiding illicit or semi-licit
activities. Some are also said to be significant actors in
obtaining spare parts and equipment for the Revolutionary
Guard, raising revenues and managing money for it and/or
regime figures, or managing Iran-origin narcotics
trafficking. The list is a "sampler" of the types of
personnel and activities singled out to Iran watcher by
multiple sources as actively involved in Iranian
regime-supportive financial and procurement activities. The
list suggests the extensive and complex interconnection of
Iranian figures and activities that reportedly support
Iranian security organizations and regime figures. End

¶2. (S) Baku Iran watcher received the information below from
a wide variety of independent Iranian and Azerbaijani sources
(strictly protect), including Baku-based Iranian students,
business figures, and human rights activists; a Tehran-based
Iranian exporter; a prominent businessman working in Iran;
the Executive Director of AmCham in Azerbaijan; an
Azerbaijani oil company executive; and a local partner in a
leading international management consulting firm. In almost
all cases the information below was related/confirmed
separately by at least three of the above sources.

¶3. (S) Please note that, while serious efforts have been
made to cross-check the information below and ignore
"indirect" claims, Iran watcher has no independent ability to
verify these allegations. Although some of these figures are
well known in Baku and/or among the resident Iranian
community, Baku Iran watcher has never met any of them. The
information below should be interpreted in this context.

¶4. (S) Begin List:

¶A. (S) Jamal Allavi. Three Iranian sources claimed that
Allavi is a close relative of the ex-Mayor of Ardebil, and a
former colleague/friend of President Ahmedinajad. He now
runs several Iranian companies (mostly trading), and is the
head of a provincial cooperative organization "Tavanee
Marzneshinan Fedayan Velayat," entitled to export and import
items with reduced restrictions. Allavi has a house in Baku
and frequently travels on business to Azerbaijan, Russia,
China, and Kazakhstan. He uses his businesses as a cover for
procuring and importing military spare parts and other items
needed by the Revolutionary Guard and other Iranian security
forces, bribing customs officials as necessary. A fourth
Iranian source noted that, while he did not know Allavi, the
company name is a "giveaway" of Revolutionary Guard/regime

¶B. (S) FNU "Lotfi". Runs a large artificial leather factory
in Ardebil ("Kharkhaneye Charmeh Masnui)", and other
businesses based in Iranian Azerbaijan. He is a close
associate of Jamal Allavi (entry "A" above), with whom he
cooperates in smuggling activities. He is an officer in the
Revolutionary Guard (possibly retired), and his businesses
are actually Revolutionary Guard-owned. He travels to
Malaysi, Singapore, Dubai, Turkey, and Iraq as well as
zerbaijan on Revolutionary Guard business. He als assists
Revolutionary Guard and/or Iranian intelligence operations by
"getting for them what they need," including communications
equipment and technical information.

¶C. (S) Adil Sharabiani. An Iranian currency exchange dealer
with "close links" to Tehran. He was formerly a manager of

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Bank Melli Iran, and currently has a close business
relationship with the Xalq Bank, a medium-sized bank in Baku.
He came to Azerbaijan after going bankrupt in Iran under
murky circumstances. He is wealthy and reportedly works
closely with the Iranian "Foundation for the Oppressed"
(Banyadeh Mostazafan), overseeing its business and investment
activities in Azerbaijan, and advising the management of the
Foundation-owned Darya Soap Detergent company in Azerbaijan
(headed by one "Farzandeh"). He also assists another Iranian
foundation that is providing financial assistance to
Azerbaijani refugees from Karabagh with up to 300 Manat per
family per month (about $350).

An Iranian contact said that a friend had recently witnessed
Sharabiani delivering five million dollars in cash "from
Iran" to the Bank of Baku that was not entered on the books.
The Iranian source did not know whether the money represented
a personal payment to Sharabiani or a disbursement entrusted
to him for some other purpose. The anti-regime source
alleged that Sharabiani "periodically" makes such deliveries
to the Bank. An Iranian businessman separately told Iran
watcher that Sharabiani has "very good relations" with the
Iranian government, and is widely assumed by other Iranians
to be assisting both regime organizations and individual
regime/clerical figures in investment and money laundering

Note: The Xalq Bank was established using former staff of the
Bank of Baku (see 'E" below). It is one of the most popular
Baku banking venues in Azerbaijan for Iranian businesses and
Iranians in Iran. Two other popular banks for Iranians are
the "Royal Bank of Baku," owned by an Iranian-American (ref
C), and the "Bank of Baku." End Note).

¶D. (S) Kamal Darvishi. This individual and his three
brothers were famous fighters during the Iran-Iraq war.
Kamil rose to the rank of General in the Revolutionary
Guard, and formerly had important Teheran-area security and
intelligence duties. He and his brother Keyoumars began
coming to Azerbaijan regularly ten years ago. Although from
a very poor family, they are both extremely wealthy. Kamal
owns several road and other infrastructure construction
companies in Iran, and formerly effectively controlled much
of this sector in Iran (according to a Teheran businessman,
"no roads in Iran could be built without him or his friends
as a partner.)"

Darvishi formerly ran the "NASR" company, an alleged
Revolutionary Guard-controlled business in Iran. Some of his
business activities and networking reportedly aroused
suspicion, resulting in his official "retirement" from the
Revolutionary Guard. In recent years Darvishi has developed
a close business relationship/friendship with Azerbaijan
Minister of Transportation Ziya Mammedov, and with
Mammedov's assistance has won at least eight major road
construction and rehabilitation contracts, including
contracts for construction of the Baku-Iranian Astara
highway, the Baku-Guba highway, and the BaQ ring highway.
(Comment: We assume Mammedov is a silent partner in these
contracts. Mammedov's immediate family owns Azerbaijan's
largest commercial development company, and he is notoriously
corrupt even for Azerbaijan. Iran watcher has heard many
allegations from Azerbaijani contacts of creative corrupt
practices involving highway construction here. End Comment).

Iranian business and student contacts asserted that Darvishi
maintains close relations with the Revolutionary Guard and
Iranian intelligence. Two noted that he travels freely
abroad, in violation of ten-year legal limitations on
personal foreign travel by retired senior Revolutionary Guard
officers. An Iranian student reported that Darvishi is
recruiting among Iranian students in Azerbaijan for work in a
new company he is establishing here.

¶E. (S) Jamsheed "Jushkar" Mahmudoglu. He and his brothers
are Iranian Azerbaijanis who have obtained Turkish
citizenship. They are large shareholders in the Bank of
Baku, which is sometimes presented as a "Turkish bank." They
are originally from Tabriz, where the family were wealthy
gold and currency dealers who lost their business after the
Iranian Revolution. The family fled to Turkey and ultimately

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obtained Turkish passports. Their business deals in
Azerbaijan and Iran are frequently entwined with the Oromi
brothers, another former Tabrizi-now-Turkish family active in
Azerbaijan and Iran. They and the Oromis set up the Silsila
General Trading company in Dubai under the aegis of the NAB
Group. In Iran they jointly own a company which produces
boilers on license from a German company (Bosch). In
Azerbaijan they cooperated in the establishment of the Baku
Electronics company and the Bank of Baku (the latter in
partnership with the family of former Minister of Economic
Development Farhad Aliyev, see below). Unlike the Oromis,
Jamsheed reportedly remains a major shareholder in this bank.

Two Iranian sources repeated "rumors" that this son is
working with a son of Ayatollah Rafsanjani in several
business ventures. Jamsheed has relations with prominent
Azerbaijani and Iranian business and government figures, and
allegedly does favors for Iranian government personnel,
including facilitating of desired foreign items and money
laundering. The President of AmCham in Baku (protect)
confirmed that Jamsheed is a major bank shareholder, and
originally from Iran. She nd other sources opined that the
bank is one of he more "professionally run" in Baku.
(Comment: The bank is known for its relations with Turkish
companies. The Bank of Baku was formerly controlled by the
brother of Farhad Aliyev, a former Azerbaijani Minister of
Economic Development who is currently jailed. According to a
prominent Azerbaijani business consultant (strictly protect),
Aliyev's position has been divided between the Azerbaijani
Minister of Transportation Ziya Mammedov, and the Head of
Presidential Security, Vahid Akhundov. End Comment).

¶F. (S) Shahram Oromi. An Iranian Azerbaijani who obtained
Turkish citizenship after the Iranian revolution.
Nonetheless, he attended university in Iran, graduating from
Iran Azad university (1993). He and his brothers Nadir and
Bahram established the "Turkish" NAB Foreign Trade company
(Deesh Ticaret Limited Sherkati) in 1988. The company
(headquartered in Istanbul) does extensive trading between
Turkey and the Middle East and Iran. It is active in
Azerbaijan, and also present in Russia and other CIS
countries. Since 1995 this company has been the distributor
of Hyundai cars in Azerbaijan, and a member of the family is
reportedly the Agent for Samsung in Turkey and Azerbaijan.
The consultant describes the Oromi brother's business mode as
based on "establishing insider monopolies or advantages via
relations with powerful government individuals and their
relatives" in the various countries in which they operate,
"using bribes, 'gifts,' or offers of a share in their

The Oromis helped set up the Bank of Baku (see item "E'
above), and Shahram served in various positions (ranging from
Chief of the Financial Audit Department to Chairman) between
1999-2007, however they have recently sold most of their
shares in this bank to influential Azerbaijanis. The Oromi's
allegedly work cooperatively in areas requested by senior
Iranian figures, and several of their businesses may
facilitate regime (or regime member) interests. Shahram was
and remains close to former Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan
Ahmed Qazai.

¶G. (S) "Asgar" LNU (commonly known in Baku as "Agaya Asgar).
His private company is located at #16 Gorbanov Street in
Baku, next to the Nizami metro station. His formal business
is Iran-Russia timber and wood products export/import via
Azerbaijan. A native of Iranian Azerbaijan, Asgar has an
Azerbaijani wife and has lived in Baku for several years.
He works closely with political officers based at the Iran
Culture House (ref B). His wife is the cousin of the
Azerbaijani Minister of Education Misir Mardanov, and
Mardanov's brother is one of his business partners. Irada
Afetgizi, an Iranian who helped organize an anti-Israel
"Islamic world" conference held at the Baku Media Center in
2007, works in his office. Asgar owns two homes in Baku and
hosts visiting Iranian clerics and relatives of Iranian
regime officials and senior Revolutionary Guard officers. He
has close ties to Iranian government and Revolutionary Guard
organizations and individuals, and assists them in business
activities. He often travels to Moscow.

¶H. (S) Jabrail Naveed "Azerbaijani." A famous "fixer" for

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Iranians in Azerbaijan (hence his nickname). He was head of
the Iranian Trader's Association in Azerbaijan until that
organization closed in the late 1990's. An Iranian
manufacturer and exporter from Tehran who has known the
family for years (strictly protect) noted that "he is very
wealthy, but doesn't flaunt it." He said that Naveed's wife
formerly worked in Iran as an officer in Bank Melli, where
she facilitated loans to unqualified regime bigwigs and their

Three contacts separately claimed that Naveed has facilitated
Iran-related energy business ventures with the State Oil
Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), and illicitly exports (falsely
labeled) Pelite and other oil drilling materials and
chemicals and propane gas. Naveed also reportedly owns the
"Pingvin" iron workshop in Azerbaijan. The Tehran
businessman said that Naveed helps facilitate import of
sanctioned products into Iran from Russia and elsewhere via
the Azerbaijani enclave of Nakchevan, and said that he
himself is one of "many" legitimate Iranian exporters who
have been pressured into cooperating in this activity.
Naveed is a close friend of the head of Baku's Husseiniya
("Iranian") mosque, Mullah Ogagnejad, and oversees the
mosques' administration. Ogagnejad is a son-in-law of the
late Ayatollah Meshkini, and the personal religious
representative of Ayatollah Khameini in Azerbaijan (ref B).

¶I. (S) Safa Naveed. Son of Jabrail Naveed (above). A
graduate of Baku's Kavkaz university, he is currently a
Revolutionary Guard officer working at the Iranian Embassy in
Baku. He is a leadliaison with Iranian students in
Azerbaijan. AnIranian student described Safa's duties as
"spyig on" Iranian students in Baku, and an Iranian
businessman who has known the family for years told Iran
watcher that Safa Naveed has frequently boasted to him about
his and Iran's knowledge of what goes on in Azerbaijan,
extensive information networks here, and "ability to get
anything it needs." One contact described Safa as
"fanatically anti-Western."

¶J. (S) Asgar Jabbari. One of the "two Asgars" widely known
among Iranians in Baku (see "F" above). Son of the late
"Mullah Natiq," a famous hard-line orator during the Iranian
revolution and the Iran-Iraq war. Jabbari's wife is from
Azerbaijan, he owns a house here, and travels back and forth
regularly between Iran and Azerbaijan. His main official
business is exporting Iranian marble from Isfahan, where he
works with a large factory, which is actually a Revolutionary
Guard front company (Note: Iranian marble is commonly used in
Baku residential and office-building construction, which has
been undergoing a boom here until recently. End Note.)
Jabbari has close business relationships with senior Iranian
government officials, and carries out business activities and
buys real estate on their behalf. (Note: Jabbari's name is
of Arabic origin, but is more likely to imply religious piety
than Arabic heritage. End Note).

¶K. (S) Sabir Shaheen. Though reportedly mild-mannered and
well dressed, Shaheen is a well known mafia-like figure from
Iranian Azerbaijan who reportedly acts as a "liaison" between
the Iranian and Russian/Azerbaijani narcotics traffickers.
Although he officially operates a marble store on Baku's Karl
Marx street, the store is generally closed and Shaheen
himself is generally seen holding court at restaurants and
cafes along 28 May Street. (Note: Iran reportedly has one of
the highest per capita rates of heroin addiction in the
world, and heroin and other narcotics trafficking from Iran
to Russia and Europe via Azerbaijan has skyrocketed over the
last two years. See ref (D).

End List.