FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 2013
Contact: Nathan Carleton, [email protected]
Phone: (212) 554-3296
UANI Calls for Greek Ship Owner Victor Restis and Restis Group to End Illicit Business Relationships with Iranian Regime
New York, NY - Today, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) unveiled evidence of illicit business practices between Victor Restis, Chairman of Greece's First Business Bank S.A. (FBB), and the Iranian regime.
UANI has written to Mr. Restis, presenting evidence of a significant and potentially lucrative relationship between FBB, blacklisted Greek businessman Dimitris Cambis, and Iran's Ministry of Petroleum (MoP).
The documents demonstrate that Mr. Restis, through FBB and in conjunction with Mr. Cambis, is conspiring with individuals acting on behalf of the Iranian regime to serve as a front for the MoP in Greece by securing a "strategic alliance" with the regime. In exchange, FBB will receive investments apparently in excess of one billion dollars from Iranian authorities.
In March, Mr. Cambis was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Treasury for conspiring with the Iranian regime to acquire a fleet of oil tankers and disguise their ownership in order to illegally export Iranian oil to foreign customers in contravention of international sanctions.
In a letter sent to Restis, UANI CEO, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, wrote:
United Against Nuclear Iran is writing to express its serious concern about the apparent business dealings of two of your companies, namely First Business Bank S.A. and Enterprises Shipping and Trading S.A., with sanctioned-designated individuals and Iranian oil and shipping entities. Specifically, UANI is seriously alarmed by your relationships with Dimitris Cambis, President of Athene Consulting House S.A., a notorious Greek businessman recently sanctioned by the U.S. government for conspiring with the Iranian regime and Iran's Ministry of Petroleum, to illegally export Iranian oil in violation of international sanctions.
UANI has been provided recent documentation confirming the existence of a significant and potentially lucrative illicit business relationship between FBB, of which you serve as Chairman, Cambis, and the Iranian MoP. The documents demonstrate that you, through FBB, and in conjunction with Cambis, are conspiring with individuals acting on behalf of the Iranian regime to serve as a front for the MoP in Greece by securing a "strategic alliance" with the regime wherein FBB will receive investments apparently in excess of one billion dollars from Iranian authorities. Put simply, you are providing extensive and critical shipping and financial services to the Iranian regime and facilitating the expansion of its oil industry, in flagrant contravention of the international sanctions regime.
In addition to Cambis, the other partner in this illicit business relationship is the Iranian MoP. Surely you are aware that the MoP manages the regime's oil industry through two key affiliate companies: the National Iranian Oil Company and the National Iranian Tanker Company and that all three entities are sanctioned by both the U.S. and EU.
In a letter dated April 25, 2012 and addressed to you and Professor Christos Kazantzis, CEO of FBB, Cambis, writing on behalf of Athene, clearly defines the relationship between Athene and the sanctioned Iranian MoP: "We [Athene Consulting House] have established a long term strategic collaboration with the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum and a number of major Iranian private entities operating globally..."
Cambis goes on to explain his rationale for identifying you and FBB as a potential partner in this illicit Iranian investment scheme: "We have been mandated, among others, to propose a Greek financial institution...From our point of view we have proposed FBB because we trust Prof Kazantzis and his strategic thinking and because we believe that Mr Restis is an eminent international businessman who can attain numerous synergies out of a strategic alliance with our clients."
Cambis also clearly describes the motivation of the Iranian partners i.e. Sir Kazem Vaziri, Mr. Homayoun Ansari and Dr. M. Ali Izadi, who "represent the Iranian authorities" and "are in charge of international investments of the Iranian Ministry of Oil." According to Cambis, the objective of Vaziri, Ansari and Izadi is to initiate and conclude a strategicagreement with FBB including "by acquiring a substantial stake in the equity of the Bank....and acquiring other financial institutions in Greece..." According to Cambis, the monthly transactions to be directed to FBB by these Iranian partners "are a few billions."
Clearly, the purpose of the partnership between FBB and the stigmatized and sanctioned Cambis, and MoP, respectively, is to secure Iranian regime control over FBB, a non-sanctioned and seemingly legitimate entity headed by an ostensibly credible Greek businessman with the façade of an EU-protected financial institution, in order to enable the Iranian regime to engage in, and enlarge, its fraudulent financial and shipping activity in exchange for an enormous investment from the Iranian regime.
UANI is also in possession of a second document corroborating the main details of the first, namely that the Iranian MoP plans to invest heavily in FBB.
Both documents - the letter from Cambis and the consultancy engagement agreement letter - confirm the existence of a scheme in which FBB serves as a front for the MoP in exchange for an infusion of investment from the Iranian regime. Clearly, you and Cambis are acting as front-men for the Iranian MoP, enabling the regime to massively expand its capacity to finance illicit shipping operations. ...
UANI has highlighted the shipping industry as an area where the international community can further pressure Iran. Earlier this year, UANI revealed the results of a comprehensive investigation into the Iranian regime's actions to evade international oil sanctions.
All thirteen of the world's major shipping services stopped certifying Iranian vessels following UANI's Shipping Campaign, including Bureau Veritas, Germanischer Lloyd, the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, Korean Register of Shipping, China Classification Society, and ClassNK. UANI has also announced that Barbados, Hong Kong, Moldova and Mongolia have stopped their reflagging of Iranian vessels.
Click here to read UANI's full letter to Restis.
Click here to learn more about UANI's Shipping Campaign.