Home News Business News Largest state-owned bank in Slovenia accused of money laundering

Largest state-owned bank in Slovenia accused of money laundering

Nova Ljubljanska Banka

Share This On Social

The largest state-owned bank in Slovenia, Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB), is accused of laundering about 1 billion EUR from Iran in period 2008-2010. The financial institution has violated the international embargo and has not complied with the rules on terrorist financing.
Opposition parties insist that there was a clear political interference in the case of the then Socialist government. They argue that some politicians have done their best to hide the transactions.
The scandal is around Iraj Farrokhzadeh, who has Iranian and British citizenship. He opened bank accounts on behalf of his company Farrokh Ltd after the authorities in Switzerland closed his UBS accounts. Farrokhzadeh has transferred money to the Iranian Export Development Bank, which is included in the black list of the Council of the European Union (EU) because of its links with arms proliferation and payments to companies managed by the Ministry of Defense of Iran.
“The Iranian Export Development Bank is involved in providing financial services to companies related to Iranian proliferation programs and has helped certain entities circumvent and violate sanctions”, officially acknowledges the EU in its restrictive measures against Iran.
Besides, Iraj Farrokhzadeh himself is on the list of wanted persons at Interpol at the same time that the accounts with the Slovenian bank were opened.
Slovenian media reported in July that 40-50 transactions took place every day from NLB bank to more than 30,000 accounts around the world, including some clearly held in fake names, such as Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. At least 400 translations have been blocked by anti-money laundering agencies in other countries, but Slovenia has taken no action to stop them. The Slovenian central bank has issued a ban on transactions in December 2010. The NLB has taken nine days to complete it. At that time, Iraj Farrokhzadeh transferred his accounts to Russian banks.
Police in Slovenia issued a statement earlier in September. The document states that there has been no criminal activity and the authorities in the country have not found criminal proceedings.
“The suspicions of state prosecutors for money laundering involving a NLB bank have not yet been confirmed or rejected”, commented the Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar on September 26th. He promises to keep an eye on the problem. “If there were any irregularities or abuses, we must confirm it without a doubt and then talk about penalties. If it is found that someone is responsible for this in the eyes of the law, appropriate procedures will be initiated”, added he.
On the same day, the Slovenian Parliament unanimously adopted two reports calling for further investigation of the case, which could potentially open Pandora’s box in Slovenian politics.
Currently, Slovenia is ruled by a three-party government after Miro Cserar’s party won the 2014 election and formed a coalition with the DesoS and the Social Democrats.