Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Honourable David Lametti,
Minister of Public Safety Honourable Bill Blair,
Minister of National Revenue Honourable Diane Lebouthillier,
On behalf of the Iranian Canadian Congress, I would like to express our extreme concern about the cases of individuals charged with corruption and embezzlement in Iran who flee to Canada.
Mahmoud Reza Khavari was a former Iranian banker who fled to Canada after a massive $2.6 billion financial fraud came to light in 2011. In December 2017, Khavari was sentenced to 30 years in prison and Interpol issued a warrant for him. Last year, we also informed you about the case of Marjan Sheikholeslami Aleagha, who is being indicted in Iran in a massive $10 billion corruption case and has invested in properties and started businesses in Canada.
In recent days there have been multiple reports about several other individuals charged in corruption cases in Iran who have fled to Canada and transferred millions of dollars of the money they have made through embezzlement and bribery to this country. While the Iranian Canadian Congress cannot independently verify the details of these reports our preliminary investigation shows that the following individuals with ties to Canada must be added to the list:
- Ali Ashraf Riahi: Charged in a petrochemical corruption case. LINK
- Jalil Sobhani: Charged in a corruption and bribery case involving the former deputy of the Iranian judiciary LINK
- Omid Assadbeigi: Charged in a corruption and bribery case. In a recent letter, the workers of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Agro-Industrial Complex directly appealed to Canadians to investigate and return millions of dollars in corruption money that he has allegedly transferred to Canada. LINK
Our community and the Iranian Canadian Congress have raised concerns about these cases on several occasions both during the former government of Prime Minister Harper and during the time of the current Liberal government. However, Iranian-Canadians have never received any response, nor has the government taken any action on this issue.
While these individuals have been able to move to Canada and invest their money freely, many ordinary Iranian-Canadians have been unfairly singled out in the immigration process and have been subject to banking restrictions because of their nationality and country of origin. Indeed, the community is aware of cases of Iranian international students whose bank accounts were closed with only a few hundred dollars in them.
The inaction of the Canadian government on these cases has allowed individuals who have enriched themselves from corruption to evade justice while innocent Iranian-Canadians have to deal with the suspicions that are levied against the whole community because of the actions of these corrupt individuals.
As such, we call on the Canadian government and the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of National Revenue to immediately launch investigations through responsible agencies about the cases of individuals mentioned in this letter using the full power of the Canadian law including but not limited to anti-money laundering laws. The Iranian Canadian Congress is ready to provide more information and support the Canadian government.
Our government and law enforcement agencies must prevent Canada from becoming a haven for corrupt money. It is important to emphasize that money laundering in Canada is a significant challenge and it is not limited to the Iranian community. Our government must act now.