Anti-Financial Crime & Financial Crime Compliance
Regulatory Intelligence Leadership | Insight | Network

Compliance News, Financial Services, North America

Millions transferred from Iran to Canada, violating sanctions – leaked watchdog report reveals

By Dan Byrne for AMLi

A LEAKED REPORT from Canada’s financial watchdog has claimed that a currency exchange business helped Iran illegally wire millions into Canada,

In actions that were labelled a “threat to national security,” by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) – the agency from which the report was leaked – the wiring of money is understood to have been done despite numerous international sanctions on Iran by the Canadian government.

The documents accused the Toronto-based ONG Currency Exchange Inc. of “assisting the government of Iran in the clandestine wiring of monies into Canada,” Global News reported Tuesday.

They documented a number of transactions passing from Iran to Canada through ONG’s channels.

Although no timeframe was given for the transactions, or details on what the funds were ultimately used for, CSIS said they estimate the amount transferred to be “in the millions.”

ONG owner Alireza Onghaei has also been implicated in the scandal. He registered the company with Canadian authorities in 2010, with his home listed as the company’s official address.

Since that time, he has acted as sole director. His website claims to offer “safe and secure money transfers”

Details from the report are understood to have revealed a network for money transfers that went from Tehran, through the United Arab Emirates and then onward to Canada.

Passing the money through the UAE enabled ONG to avoid the sanctions that the Canadian government has placed on Iran going back to 2006.

Onghaei admitted in an interview with CSIS that he “owned a private money transfer company that would transfer funds from Bank Saderat and other Iranian financial actors into Canada.”

Despite acknowledging that the process of circumventing international sanctions was illegal, Onghaei said he had conducted such business for a period of at least three years.

Since news of the leaked report broke in Canada, potential connections have been made between Mr Onghaei and a Canadian member of Parliament.

The MP, while stating he had met Mr Onghaei, said he never had any business dealings with him.

Share this on:

Follow us on:

AML Intelligence
We hope you enjoyed reading this article

If you would like unlimited access to AML Intelligence premium articles, newsletter delivered twice a week, access to our Global Bank Fines and Penalties database, free access to Boardroom Series events and much more, select one of our subscription options and become a subscriber!