The Dushanbe-based Kont Investment Bank has reportedly been renamed because its name does not meet the Tajik language norms.
Kont Invesment Bank was renamed Bonki Osiyo (Bank Asia) in late March. On March 30, the NBT recalled the license of the Closed Joint-Stock Company (CJSC) Kont Investment Bank and granted license to conduct national and foreign currency transactions to the Bonki Osiyo.
The bank top managers said the bank was renamed in order to bring its name into compliance with requirements of the country’s laws on state language and banking activities.
They say the bank does not belong to foreign nationals and its only shareholder is a national of Tajikistan.
Kont Kozmetik, founded by Iranian billionaire and business magnate Babak Zanjani in 2007, established Kont Investment Bank in 2011. Kont Investment Bank reportedly owns 100% of shares in Asian Express Airline, which on its part, reportedly assumes the 100% ownership in Dushanbe’s Bus Terminal.
Representatives of Kont Investment Bank confirmed in June 2015, that Kont Invest Bank was founded by Babak Zanjani, but they said that it then had been bought by a Turkish citizen.
According to some sources, Babak Zanjani’s Tajik empire included a bank, an airline, a taxi service and a bus terminal.
In April 2013, Zanjani and his business conglomerate Sorinet were sanctioned by the US Treasury. He was tasked under the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad administration with helping Iran evade sanctions by selling its oil and transferring the money through overseas banks.
Dubai-based Sorinet Commercial Trust Bankers (SCT Bankers) and Malaysia-based First Islamic Investment Bank (FIIB) were reportedly designated for providing financial, material, technological or other support for Naftiran Intertrade Company Ltd (NICO) and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).
Turkey-based Kont Kozmetik was designated for being owned or controlled by Babak Zanjani.
On December 30, 2013 Babak Zanjani was arrested by Iranian police for his alleged role in a corruption scandal. Some days later, Tajik central bank official denied any cooperation between Zanjani and the bank and claimed all documents presented by Zanjani about their two-way communications were fake.
Some media outlets reported in early 2015 that Iranian legislator Amir Abbas Soltani, a member of the investigative committee to find the money allegedly embezzled by Babak Zanjani, said that Zanjani’s representative had paid $3 million to one of deputy heads of Tajik central bank for falsification of money transfer documents.
Besides, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh reportedly said on August 11, 2014 that Zanjani used the Tajikistan branch of his own bank, First Islamic Investment Bank, to funnel the money out of Iran.
Tajik central bank denied allegations that Iranian tycoon Babak Zanjani gave bribe to one of deputy heads of Tajik central bank as absolutely baseless.
“We have repeatedly denied any cooperation between Zanjani and Tajik central bank,” NBT former head Abdujabbor Shirinov stated on January 20, 2015.
Former head of the State Committee on Investment and State-owned Property Management of Tajikistan (GosKomInvest) Qodir Qosim has claimed that Iranian tycoon Babak Zanjani has never invested in Tajikistan.
“Iranian businessman Babak Zanjani has no property in Tajikistan,” Qodir Qosim said on January 27, 2015, noting that Babak Zanjani participated in an official opening of the Dushanbe renovated bus terminal on March 12, 2013 as a honorable guest but not as an investor.
On March 6, 2016 Babak Zanjani was convicted and sentenced to death for embezzlement and “spreading corruption on earth.” (News.tj/Business World Magazine)
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