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German Paper Flags Concerns Over Iranian Firm In Düsseldorf

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A report from the German newspaper Bild says a Düsseldorf-based subsidiary of Iran’s Mapna Group — Mapna Europe — may be involved in circumventing international sanctions.

Mapna Group, a major Iranian conglomerate involved in constructing power plants and oil facilities, is under scrutiny for its connections with the Islamic Republic’s political elite.

The British government raises even more serious suspicions. Mapna Europe GmbH appears to be on an European list of international companies suspected of being involved in the production or procurement of weapons of mass destruction, Bild said.

Bild’s investigation suggests that the Islamic Republic may use Mapna Europe, along with its subsidiaries in Dubai, China, and Turkey, for conducting suspicious transactions, thereby evading international sanctions. The allegation is worrying as Mapna is listed under US sanctions.

According to Bild, Abbas Aliabadi, who served for fifteen years as the CEO of Mapna until his appointment as Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade in Ebrahim Raisi’s government in 2023, continues to influence the operations of Mapna Europe discreetly.

“The mullahs from Iran are building a nuclear bomb and want to destroy Israel – but are doing millions in business in Germany,” writes Bild.

It also highlights that according to experts, there are hidden company networks, especially in Düsseldorf and Hamburg, with which Iran is trying to circumvent sanctions. The Mapna network stands out here because of its prominence: the name Afshin Rezaei is on the mailbox next to Economics Minister Aliabadi.

Aliabadi, a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and a veteran of Iran’s defense educational institutions, stepped down from his role at Mapna shortly after taking office in the government.

“Mapna Europe operates in an office complex between the main train station and the old town with an unadorned entrance, and dark staircase. Not a place where you would expect a state-run company. Only one name on the mailbox might say who is at work here: Abbas Aliabadi – Iran’s Minister of Economy, member of the Revolutionary Guard, confidant of the mullahs,” read the report by Bild.

The name Afshin Rezaei, who manages Mapna’s Dubai branch and previously faced a six-month US prison sentence for violating anti-terrorism laws, is also listed on the company’s mailbox.

The report also ties other high-profile Iranian figures to Mapna Europe, including Tahmasb Mazaheri, former Economy Minister and ex-Governor of the Central Bank of Iran. Mazaheri was reportedly managing several businesses in Düsseldorf as of 2018, and in 2013, he was found with an undeclared check worth 54 million euros at Düsseldorf Airport. The Islamic Republic claimed that the check Mazaheri carried was for the costs of residential construction in Venezuela.