Iran May Be ‘Laundering’ Money in Ecuadorian Banks
Otto Reich’s Perspective: Ecuador’s Central Bank issued a press release on Monday denying accusations made by several members of its National Assembly about a financial triangulation mechanism that would permit Iran to launder money in Ecuador.
Why did the Central Bank feel obliged to deny such a serious accusation made by respected members of its Congress? The facts may be even more serious than the allegations.
On Jan. 12, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador and President Mahmud Ahmadinejad of Iran held a meeting in Quito, Ecuador, in which they discussed a series of financial and banking issues. According to the official record of the meeting, both presidents agreed to use Bank Cofiec as the principal financial link between Iran and Ecuador.
Cofiec is a small private bank (about $20 million in deposits) that had been intervened by the government of Ecuador in the late 90s and is still under its control. The real purpose is to conduct transactions directly with Iran by avoiding Ecuador’s Central Bank, and instead channeling them through a bank with no public accountability or exposure.
This get together set the pattern for further bilateral meetings, trips to Iran and Russia by delegations that included the president of the Central Bank of Ecuador, Pedro Delgado, members of Cofiec Bank, among others, and actions intended to set a path for building a financial triangulation mechanism that would permit Iran to move money around UN sanctions.
Below are a series of facts and allegations that document this pattern and shed light on a potential scandal that is just beginning to emerge.
At a minimum, the Correa Government needs to allow greater transparency into this situation, to reassure the world that, contrary to appearances, it is not laundering money to aid the Iranian regime:
Delgado is the cousin of Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, and is president of the Central Bank. He is the person allegedly in charge of conducting the covert relations between Ecuador and Iran.
He is married to María Verónica Endara Clavijos, currently Ecuador’s Consul General in Miami. Delgado’s name appeared in the press earlier this year, as being linked to the scandal known as “diplomatic cocaine,” in which Italian police in Milan found an Ecuadorian diplomatic pouch containing cocaine. So far, Delgado has decided not to make any public comment about this incident.
Delgado has traveled to Iran on several occasions this year. In mid- February, before arriving in Iran, Delgado made stops in Miami, London and Moscow. In Miami and London he reportedly held meetings with important law firms to learn about the potential negative impact of deepening Ecuador’s relations with Iran.
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