Friday, September 15, 2017

Ex-PM Barak linked to bank seeking to invest in Iran - Akiva Bigman

by Akiva Bigman

Bank's employees took part in the Europe-Iran Forum which was designed to properly prepare and evaluate the post-sanctions trade framework and investment opportunities.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak  
Photo: Gideon Markowicz

Ever since he left politics in March 2013, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak has been actively pursuing various business opportunities in a variety of fields, and has also served as a strategic adviser to a number of international corporations.

Some four months after leaving public life, Barak became a senior consultant for the CEO of the Swiss bank Julius Bär, Boris Collardi.

Barak is a member of a select group of international consultants who meet once every six months. "Barak advises the CEO on geopolitical matters," Stephen Kamp, a senior executive at Julius Bär told TheMarker in February 2014.

"It is important for financial bodies to get information from someone who was part of the political world for many years, who can share things about what takes place behind the scenes, what the political discourse looks like and what is happening in various parts of the world. It is also important for them to take advantage of opportunities in those places," he said. "He advises on these matters and opens doors."

Barak revealed that he has an account in Julius Bär. The bank only manages accounts for clients who have at least a million dollars. Israel Hayom has learned that Julius Bär's employees have taken part in the Europe-Iran Forum, a business conference that convenes annually. The forum is designed to enhance business ties between the Iranian business community and European companies.

The first conference took place in London in October 2013, when the nuclear talks were still underway. The conference was designed to "properly prepare and evaluate the post-sanctions trade framework and investment opportunities." President Hassan Rouhani also sent a letter praising the effort.

A Gatestone Institute report said the conference included many business leaders from Iran who were closely associated with the Iranian regime's hostile activity.

These included:

Rouzbeh Pirouz, the vice president of the board of directors of Iralco, an Iranian company that had sanctions imposed on it by the European Union for "directly supporting Iran's proliferation sensitive nuclear activities."

Sifiso Dabengwa, the head of the MTN Group, which has been reportedly helping "the Iranian regime terrorize and oppress its citizens."

Majid Zamani, chief executive of Kardan Investment Bank, a major Iranian financial firm, whose three leading shareholders were blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury Department because of their alleged efforts to fund the nuclear program and help obtain yellowcake uranium.

Mohammad Reza Ansari, the chairman of Kayson, an Iranian company that was accused of being "affiliated with the IRGC [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps]," and was blacklisted by the British government for possible involvement in Iran's weapons of mass destruction program.

Several of those four also took part in the forum in subsequent years.

Representatives from Europe and around the world, representing dozens of companies interested in the Iranian market take part in these forums. They include Airbus, Mitsubishi and H&M.

Ehud Barak said he considers the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran a "bad deal." He also reportedly favored attacking Iran's nuclear installations when he was defense minister. But he has also publicly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's campaign against the deal and attacked him for his address to the U.S. Congress in March 2015 before the deal was finalized.

In the summer of 2015, ahead of the vote on whether to approve the lifting of U.S. sanctions, Barak also attacked Netanyahu's efforts to court members of Congress. "People such as the prime minister and MKs can talk with the Americans they know and tell them why Israel opposes the deal, that is a legitimate activity," Barak told Channel 2. "But Israel, as a country, must not meddle in the domestic affairs of our best friend."

In response to the claims that Julius Bär participated in talks with Iranian companies, Israel Hayom received the following response from Barak's spokesperson: "Mr. Barak has no idea if the claims are factually correct or whether they are baseless. If the claims are correct, this is the first time that he is told about them, and it is also clearly evident that the bank's leadership did not consult with him on the matters."

Akiva Bigman


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