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Marjan Sheikholeslami Aleagha ـــ Part II

Trial and Conviction for Fraud and Embezzlement of Public Funds٫ Unjust Enrichment

Marjan Sheikholeslami Aleagha

Part ll

After the short introduction, we now discuss Marjan’s major role in Iran’s 'Billions Petrochemical Fraud Case'.

In early 2019, Iran's Special Court was set up in a drive against economic crimes, focusing on the activities of the controversial Petrochemical Commercial Company (PCC).

Reza Hamzehlu, Abbas Samimi, Mostafa Tehrani Safa, Alireza Alaei Rahmani, Mohsen Ahmadian, Marjan Sheikholeslami Aleagha, Seyed Amin Ghorshi Sarvestani, Sam Hamed Saadian, Seyyed Alireza Husseini, Ali Ashraf Riyahi, Masoumeh Dorri, Abolfazl Maleki Shamsabadi, Saeid Kheiri Zadeh, Mohammad Hussein Shirali are the all 14 defendants in the 'Billions Petrochemical Fraud Case'. But, in a short time, the news of the fraud case overshadowed the name of Marjan Sheikholeslami Aleagha.

Marjan had already fled Iran through Canada at the time that cast doubt on the case of the economic crime. The first defendant, Reza Hamzehlu gave a full testimony on how he met Marjan, even advocated for her in court.‘In 2006, Iran’s Chamber of Commerce Industries, Mines, and Agriculture called for collaboration to register a company capable of complying with Article 144.

126, entities and individuals succeeded to establish a company called ‘Iran Investment Company’, and the group was formed as a non-governmental complex, including banks, insurance companies, and business tycoons. according to Reza Hamzehlu.

‘Iran Investment Company was registered in 2007 and the board members assigned me as the CEO months later. The purpose of forming the company was at the top of Article 144,’ he added.

‘The company targeted private sector micro-capital to build new units. Iran Investment Company began to introduce itself in the commercial sector in various fields, including construction, energy, oil, and tourism. The company rapidly sponged different groups, Marjan was one of them who came to us along with her husband. Actually, Marjan was active in the field of culture and commerce. They own a news agency that is dedicated to the cultural sector and has expertise in IT,’ Reza Hamzelu continued.

'There was an IT department in Iran Investment Company, and we started cooperation with Marjan in the fields of culture and commerce, which led them to the establishment of Hatra and Deniz companies. And, based on her experience, she entered the paper trade and printing,' he said.

‘Marjan was a well-known public figure and was even officially accredited by the Islamic Guardian Council in Iran (as she was given full security clearance) and could go to the parliament as an expert. She has had a practical commitment to the system of the Islamic Republic and Hijab. It was what we’d obviously convinced of her practical efforts,’ Hamzelu emphasized.

``We established Deniz Co. when we faced the sanctions because before the embargos we were able to transfer money easily to buy our necessities. The company was in charge of transferring money to Hatra Co., and the technique continued as long as I was in the company. And, I no longer had any relation with Marjan until the trial. Because I needed some documents which the Iranian entities refused to give me,’ Hamzehlu described the reason for the establishment of the Deniz company.

``We started our cultural partnership in 2007, and our joint-business relationship began in 2009. She was the CEO of Hatra Co. and manager of the Deniz Co., as you cannot force to introduce board members,’ Hamzehlu declared.

‘She did not reap the benefits of all her dedicated work. She was paid about $2000 per month from the Deniz company. Petrochemical activities were part of the task of Deniz Co., and she was also active in the printing industry,’ Hamzehlu answered when he was asked by the judge about Marjan’s profits.

The names of Deniz Co. and Hatra Co. were mentioned in the testimony of the first defendant that we will examine in this report.

Deniz and Hatra are registered companies in Turkey. Deniz Co. was obligated to trigger sanctions to provide the cost of Hatra. It is rumored that one of the partners of Hatra, Mehdi Sharifi Niknafs, is the owner of 'Omid Iranian Company'. He also owns dozens of companies in the field of the petrochemical industry. Niknafs claimed he did not know Aleagha and her husband while he fled the country on petrochemical corruption-related charges.

Another defendant of Iran’s 'Billions Petrochemical Fraud Case' is Mohammad Hossein Shirali. In a letter, the conservative member of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, Zakani, told the head of the judiciary department that Mohammad Hossein Shirali, the retired director of the Ministry of Intelligence, has fled the country.

According to Zakani, the Petrochemical Commercial Company has organized a security group including 'retirees of the security agencies.' No comment has been made on the role of the security group in the commercial field.

Regarding the charges, Marjan said: According to the several reports about Iran’s 'Billions Petrochemical Fraud Case' that is pending at Tehran Special Court and my name was mentioned in, as the sixth defendant, and also due to heavy-handed pressures on news media against me, I, Marjan Sheikholeslami Aleagha, will clarify my legal positions and activities for the significance of public opinion.

I have legally migrated to Canada for about eight years, and so far, I have not had any case in Iran to pursue; As I have traveled to Iran several times after migration. Before migration, in the field of culture and art, I started an independent news agency in Iran, which was more or less successful in its work and many journalists were trained in, and since then I have had business activities mainly in the field of exports and imports.

Since settling abroad with my family, I have neither been politically active nor had written notes or given any interviews!; Therefore, I declare to the media labeling me affiliating with groups or parties, which simply, is according to their political fixation, I do not belong to any group, including the Iranian opposition, conservatives, reformists, monarchists, pro-regime-change supporters, etc.

Until 2014, in Iran and Turkey, I have been legally assigned as the CEO of "Hetra" and "Deniz" companies, and the companies had worked in several commercial fields, including the purchase and representation of industrial equipment. They had worked under national and international law. So, all the changes that have been introduced in Iran’s 'Billions Petrochemical Fraud Case' are baseless.

The activities of the companies were completely legal and have nothing to do with money laundering or making money by violating sanctions.

'I do not understand the sake of blackmail and lies amplified by the Persian media, and I am saddened for the media who have been spreading infamous words and lies, and using my family and personal images without permission.'

To refute the accusations and economic crimes attributed to her, Marjan explicitly cites Hamzehloo's defense in court, which was published in news reports, and says: 'I certainty deny the accusation of disturbing the economic system, and about €7 million Petrochemical Fraud Case, I have been informed about it through the news. And, according to the available documents of the companies at Iran Central Bank (ICB), I strongly reject the accusations and demand a full investigation of our financial documents. At the same time, I emphasize that there is no claim or debt claimed by the judicial authorities and a full settlement has been made with the contracting parties. In addition, there was no benefit from exchange rate differences or late payments.

I haven't the faintest idea about the activities other companies involved in the case have done in transferring their funds and buying and selling in the form of their commercial contracts. 'If in some cases, there were people who did not pay the deposits to the Central Bank at the time and a similar suspicion was raised about the deposits of Deniz and Hatra companies, I must say that it is not true.'

Regarding the misgivings about transactions of petrochemical products and earning commission, she completely denies and says that she has not bought and sold the products at all, and as a result, she has not received any commission and, all financial turnovers and receipts and payments have been made under the national and international banking laws.

'So far, I have not introduced a lawyer to the court to review Iran’s 'Billions Petrochemical Fraud Case', and I have not received any summons before the trial, and I have not sent any documents or plea to the court,' said Marjan.

One of the interesting matters of the case is that she owns numerous properties and, of course, she still denies the ownership: Eventually, Marjan called the public surveys regarding her kleptocracy, insulting with a direct and indirect aim of the destruction of her personal and professional credibility, by people of various motives and media such as Radio Farda, Manoto TV, Iranwire, The Iranian-Canadian Congress (ICC), mass media in Iran, and so on, which she says, deprived her and her children of peace and security by labels like, the embezzler of 6 million euros and many more!

Just about two years ago, she claimed and promised to hold the slanders accountable and prosecute them.

To Be Continued…

Read Persian version of Marjan Sheykholeslami Aleagha article 2

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