Deutsche Bank & the Problem of Terror Financing
The close relations between Germany and Iran have been straining transatlantic relations for years. While Iran researches nuclear weapons, Siemens supplies technologies of all kinds. The hypocrisy of the rehabilitated Germans when it comes to their own Saudi Arabia – Iran – cannot be denied. For instance, the special-purpose company Instex was founded with the sole aim of circumventing the Iran sanctions. Nevertheless, it was immediately obvious to everyone that no multinational corporation would dare to risk being excluded from the U.S. dollar market. Instex was a stun grenade to simulate one’s own questionable sovereignty in globalized times.
The compliance departments of multinational corporations, banks and trusts are therefore meticulously checking any business relations with Iran and totally stopping them with Syria. However, due to the failure of the analysis software, a suspected terrorist financing case was seen at Deutsche Bank in 2014-2017, and at the same time sensitive vulnerabilities in the transliteration software of the banking systems were exposed.
About the incident:
Deutsche Bank customer CVE International GmbH is active in the wholesale of paper and cardboard. The company employs seven people and generates sales of 16 million euros. The company’s UBOs are Jie and Christian Alexander Meiswinkel.
According to previously secret bank documents exclusively available to the author, transactions with companies from the Palestinian Authority and the Marshall Islands required a more in-depth investigation of CVE International GmbH. Since the counterparty from Palestine may have had a Hamas connection, industry-related companies from Iran as well as the United Arab Emirates were also analyzed in detail. According to the US embassy cables Leaks, at least private donors from the UAE supported Hamas.
Suspicious appeared to the analyst of Deutsche Bank three transactions on the part of UNITED MEGA CO. LTD: on 10/20/2017 worth $99,980, on 10/16/2017 worth $19,069.40, and on 06/05/2017 worth $28,024.
UNITED MEGA CO. LTD is also registered at the address of the Trust Company Complex. The trust has already attracted considerable negative attention during the offshore leaks as an address for shell companies, as well as an address for companies sanctioned in the course of the Syria conflict as a result of illegal oil deliveries. CVE International GmbH trades with specialty paper as well as petrochemical products such as bitumen. The money was partly repaid by means of two transactions dated Nov. 24, 2017, and Nov. 28, 2017 – $50,000 each. The goods of the transaction dated 16.10.2017 were, according to the invoice, delivered to Linyi Changjun International Trading Ltd. The said counterparty ordered timber for a total amount of 19,094.40 euros. It remained unclear why UNITED MEGA CO. LTD, which according to maritime logistics documents was only shipper, transferred the money. The same applies to the transaction of 05.06.2017.
Another shell company based on the Marshall Islands, EASELINK INC. is not only equally registered on the address of the Trust Company Complex, but furthermore transferred 64,129.35 USD to CVE International GmbH on June 16, 2017. According to the invoice, special paper was delivered to the Chinese company Jiangsu Provincial Foreign Trade Corporation. The company mainly imports and exports metal products, chemicals, textile raw materials and more. The name of Easelink Inc. is not found on the invoice documents, although it transferred the money as a transaction counterparty.
Additionally, a Mohammad Kamal Alay transferred 137,680 euros to CVE International GmbH on 04.10.2017. The transfer acted as a final payment for an invoice of 295,000 euros. One Muhammad Kamal (a.k.a. ALAY, Muhammad Kamal Salamah) is on the U.S. Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN). Among other things, he is accused of being at the center of a criminal financing network that links the Iranian regime to Hamas’s military arm – the al-Qassam Brigades – through Lebanese Hezbollah. The United States has designated both Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations. Al-Ayy is accused of working as a financial facilitator for the transfer of funds to Hamas. However, the name of Mohammad Kamal Alays was not found on the invoice documents, but Mediterranean Paper Mill from Lattakia – Syria. It is probably part of general knowledge to know that the Syrian state is a sanctioned regime that is sinking for a decade in the midst of a proxy war.
Lattakia is located near the Russian Khmeimim Air Base. Russia supplies consumer goods of all kinds, including weapons, through the port of Lattakia and is present on the ground with warships. Iran and Russia have a strategic partnership in Syria.
A terror suspect with links to Iran and Hamas etc. transfers money from Palestine. However, the goods are delivered to Syria, whereby the industry is coherent with that of the Deutsche Bank customer (special paper), but sanctions violations cannot be ruled out. The name of the terror suspect, on the other hand, does not appear on the invoice documents.
In addition, on 18.09.2017, 23,534 euros were transferred on the part of RAID ALSAQQA AND PART. CO. According to the invoice documents, the special paper was loaded in Qingdao (China) and transported to Ashod (Israel). The counterparty Raed Rafiq Alsaqa and Partners could not be identified by means of a superficial Internet search.
Piquantly, according to an internal email history, a check of the Memaran Tejarat Aftab oil refinery in Deutsche Bank’s respective embargo list yielded no hits, even though the company was sanctioned as part of Iran’s petrochemical industry.
Furthermore, a scan of terror suspect Mohammad Kamal Alay in the relevant systems for identifying sanctioned terrorists did not yield a hit. In the Arab world, different vowels are used or skipped depending on the region and dialect. Names are written together, hyphenated, or with spaces. This phenomenon leads to different results in the corresponding analysis software. Since the financing networks of Islamist terrorism exist in the Arab world in particular, this could be a systematic problem that leads to massive errors, insofar as terrorist hits are not detected due to the transliteration problems of the banking systems:
According to internal e-mail histories, different transliterations of names from the Arabic to the Latin alphabet led to different results – both in the old system (PCR) and in the new system (Ficrosoft).
The name of the prophet alone can be written in the most manifold variants:
Muhammad, Mohammed, Mohamed, Mohammad usw. usf.
In the case at hand, the sanctions against Mohammad Kamal Alay had been in place only since the year 2019, but he had been engaged in money laundering for Hamas for the purpose of terror financing since at least 2016. Hamas was already classified as a terrorist organization at the time of the transaction in question.
Iran and Hezbollah assist the Syrian regime, which in turn controls the region around Lattakia with Russian support. The search of the Mediterranean Paper Mill invoice party in sanctions lists also resulted in a hit. What appeared suspicious was the fact that a terror suspect with ties to Iran and Hamas was transferring money from Palestine, but according to the invoice, the goods were delivered to a sanctioned company in Syria. Although the relationship between Hamas and Hezbollah was ambivalent over their support of competing sides during the Syrian proxy war, with Hamas moving its headquarters from Damascus to Doha, Qatar, due to its support of the Islamist opposition, while the Iranian proxy supported Assad, a rapprochement has taken place under Iranian mediation since 2017, the time of the transaction, which would explain why a Hamas money launderer who was not yet sanctioned at the time of the transaction (ergo: not yet convicted) was transferring money on behalf of the Syrian regime. According to the invoice, special paper was purchased. There is thus an urgent suspicion of terrorist financing and possible sanctions violations.
Nevertheless, the senior analyst asked the corresponding temporary employee to plausibilize the case by examining further sub-accounts of CVE International GmbH from a holistic point of view, although the terror hit as well as the sanction violations were known. The reference to the transliteration problem was shot down with „I’m just not sure in what way that is our problem“ (Deutsche Bank analyst).
The case of Düllberg Konzentra GmbH und Co. KG proves that questionable transactions with Iran are not an isolated case in Deutsche Bank’s daily business.
The Deutsche Bank customer was credited 9,985.00 USD on 25/01/2017 by EST MOHAMMAD H ALOTAIBI from Saudi Arabia. On 11/18/2019 21,288.28 Euro was transferred by TM Primrose LTD from Hong Kong.
The sector of the company EST MOHAMMAD H ALOTAIBI could not be identified in business databases. Internet research on TM Primrose LTD led to an incomplete homepage, which stated that TM Primrose LTD had been active in the trade of plastics and metals. Googling the stored telephone number led to various other companies whose websites were similarly structured and some of which had the same address, but were apparently active in a different industry (textiles, etc.).
According to internal bank documents, TM Primrose LTD is registered to an address in Hong Kong: „ROOM 1801-03 18/F EAST TOWN BUILDING 41 LOCKHART ROAD WAN CHAI HON“. Research on the internet revealed that this is a coworking space. The incomplete homepage as well as the office in the coworking space are ideal typical characteristics of a shell company. According to internal bank documents and a hit in sanctions lists, TM Primrose LTD is a middleman for Iran.
The Deutsche Bank customer submitted invoices to the customer support unit, which could not plausibilize the transactions.
The transaction dated 25.01.2017 amounting to USD 9,985.00 on the part of EST MOHAMMAD H ALOTAIBI from Saudi Arabia was allegedly carried out for Afaq Co. Import Export from Egypt, however Düllberg Konzentra GmbH und Co. KG did not submit any documents to Deutsche Bank to prove this claim.
It also seems incomprehensible that on the invoice for the transaction on the part of TM Primrose LTD, Pirouz Soap MFG. Co. is mentioned – a company in Iran. According to publicly available sources, it is active in the soap industry. However, since the money was transferred from a letterbox company, and the invoice and transaction parties differ, as well as the invoice party is located in Iran, the suspicion of money laundering and evasion transactions is urgently given. Instead, the analyst in question lost his job after two feedback sessions.
Anyone who is still surprised about scandals within the compliance department of Deutsche Bank after the transliteration problem and the manifest pressure to plausibilize a case with a possible connection to terrorist financing and sanctions violations will probably never get smart again in his life. In the Middle East, on the other hand, the moral existential judgment is not to take sides with fanatical Arabs, right-wing extremist Turks or theocratic Persians, but to vehemently fight both the Islam-fascist variety of Shiism and that of Sunnism and to put a quick end to the rampant proxy wars, if necessary by force.
This would be lived anti-fascism.