Nasim Roshanaei – Who is Abdollah Abdi, the investor and executive of the Mazandaran Petrochemical in Miankaleh? This major bank debtor has such strong backing from authorities that he has confidently taken over the Miankaleh Petrochemical project, without any regard for its destructive environmental and economic effects on the Miankaleh wetlands, ecosystem, and the indigenous people of the region. What do we know about his background?
Abdi’s Financial Empire
Abdollah Abdi, who is a shareholder and shadow executive in Amirabad Mazandaran Petrochemical Industries, is directly and indirectly connected to various companies. These connections link him to institutions such as the Revolutionary Guards and the Martyrs Foundation.
According to a report by Leila Morgan on the Entekhab website, the people of Baye Kola say that Abdi has connections with high-ranking officials and, in addition to Iran, owns factories and companies in Canada and Turkey. This statement by the villagers is confirmed by a video report by Iran International Television.
In this report, we hear the altered voice of one of the senior managers of the Central Bank of Iran, who says that Abdi has a company in Turkey that issues pro forma invoices for Iranian companies and introduces himself as a manufacturer of industrial equipment in Turkey. Companies register orders from Iran and open LCs (Letters of Credit) which he cashes on the other side. For example, when he says he wants to establish a steel company in Sari and the cost of its equipment is 20 million dollars, he receives 60 million dollars in government currency and keeps the rest in his companies in Turkey, Germany, and Canada. His goal in taking on projects like the Miankaleh Petrochemical and the cement and steel company has been the same.
CEO of Several Companies: Abdi’s Continuous Violations
According to Article 241 of the Constitution, it is not possible for one person to simultaneously be the CEO of several companies, yet Abdollah Abdi is concurrently the CEO of multiple companies.
According to Clause 2, Amendment of May 9, 2016, no individual can simultaneously be appointed as the CEO or a board member of more than one company, in which all or part of the capital is owned by the government, public institutions, or non-governmental public institutions, either directly or as a representative of a legal entity. Violators, in addition to repaying the received funds to the company, will be fined an amount equivalent to those funds.
Based on Radio Zamaneh’s research, currently, Abdollah Abdi is simultaneously the CEO of two companies. He has also held the CEO position of two other companies from 2014 to 2019. Thus, at one point, Abdi was concurrently the CEO of four companies: Iran Alborz Steel Company, Sariyeh Shomal Production Company, Amin Mother Chicken Production Company, and Niroo Saghf. Currently, he holds the CEO position of Amin Mother Chicken Production Company and Niroo Saghf.
According to a report published by Borna News Agency in March 2022, Abdollah Abdi has been the CEO and chairman of the board of eight companies. Based on Zamaneh’s research, he has been the CEO, chairman, and vice-chairman of the board of 11 companies, which are listed below:
- Soorin Capital Company – Chairman of the Board
- Iran Alborz Steel Company – Former Chairman of the Board and CEO, from April 10, 2014 to June 30, 2019, when Ghasem Khalil Khalili becomes the current chairman.
- ‘Mazandaran Heavy Metal Structures Industries’ Company, which changed its name to ‘Asmash Heavy Metal Structures’ – Chairman of the Board, from June 15, 2014 to September 5, 2016, after which Habib Sadeghi Zaidi becomes chairman.
- Nain Cement Company – Chairman of the Board representing Tavajir Alton Company, from January 23, 2016 to May 6, 2017, when the position is transferred to Mohammad Ramezani.
- Pars Sarmaye Ham-Afza Dana – Former Chairman of the Board, from May 25, 2013 to May 9, 2016, when Esmaeil Jahedi, representing the public joint-stock company Bank Ayandeh, takes over the position.
- Middle East Pak Filter Company – Chairman of the Board, from October 6, 2012 to January 3, 2023
- Sariye Shomal Production Company – Former Chairman of the Board and CEO, from September 12, 2012 to July 3, 2014
- Cooperative Development Credit Association Ati – Former Chairman of the Board, from June 11, 2011, Chairman of the Liquidation Board from August 18, 2014 to October 7, 2014
- Amin Mother Chicken Production Company – Chairman of the Board and CEO, since November 19, 2007
- Niroo Saghf – Abdollah Abdi, Chairman of the Board and CEO, representing Mazandaran Heavy Metal Structures Industries Company, since April 6, 2006
- Caspian Process North – Vice Chairman of the Board, since July 26, 2009
In addition to owning Amirabad Mazandaran Petrochemical Industries and the companies mentioned, Abdollah Abdi is also directly or indirectly associated with other companies.
As the people of Baye Kola village said, he has employed members of his family in some of his factories and companies. Three members of the Abdi family are on the board of directors of Amin Mother Chicken Production Company. Shahrbano, Ali Akbar, and Sanambar Abdi are respectively the secretary, vice-chairman, and a member of the board of directors, of which Abdi is the chairman and CEO. According to a report by Etemad newspaper published in March 2022, Abdi’s wife, Gita Shokati, has been an active board member in this company for several years.
In other companies too, many members of his family are part of the board of directors. Another example is Mahmoud Abdi and Naser Abdi, who are members of the board of directors of Caspian Process North, chaired and managed by Nizam Mahmoudi.
According to WikiFesad, Abdollah Abdi’s name is tied to some subsidiary companies. For instance, Abdollah Abdi is the vice-chairman of the board of directors at Tavajir Alton Company. This company has two subsidiaries named ‘Sarmaye Ab Khak Tose’e’ (Water and Soil Capital Development) and ‘Nain Cement,’ each of which has several subsidiary companies. Abdi has been removed from this position but previously held it, and Radio Zamaneh confirms this.
In the companies associated with Abdollah Abdi, several names are repeatedly seen: Babak Jahanara, Ahmad Saee, Mohammad Ramezani, Habib Sadeghi Zaidi, and Kourosh Elias Nafiei. The names of Ramezani and Elias Nafiei appear in some of Abdi’s companies, such as Mazandaran Heavy Metal Structures Industries, Nain Cement, Iran Alborz Steel, Omran va Tose’e Sakh Sadr Pars, and Amirabad Mazandaran Petrochemical Industries.
Kourosh Elias Nafiei is the CEO of Tamin Energy Holding, one of the subsidiaries of SHASTA. He has previously been the CEO and a board member of Iran Alborz Steel Company, a construction company affiliated with Eghtesad Novin Bank, Asmash Iran Heavy Structures Company, and others. All these companies are connected to Abdollah Abdi.
Abdollah Abdi and several of his close associates are connected to various companies. Radio Zamaneh was able to compile the following list by referring to the Rasmio and VIN-register systems and the Official Gazette of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
- Novin Javdan Steel Services – Person associated with Abdi, Babak Jahanara – Vice President and Board Member
- Babak Jahanara and Partners Exchange Company, Board Member and CEO
- Pooya Behesht Housing Developers – Person associated with Abdi, Babak Jahanara – Former Vice President of the Board representing Sadr Pars Management Group, which is fully responsible for Danayan Investment representation
- Atlas Iranians – ‘Danayan Investment’ is among the parent companies of Surin Capital Management, which belongs to Abdi
- Tous Gostar Urban Development Investment – Babak Jahanara, former member of the Board of Directors
- Mihan Insurance – Related to the company associated with Abdi: Omran and Development of Sadr Pars Construction
- Vandad Business Development – Ahmad Saee, former Chairman of the Board, Babak Jahanara, Vice Chairman of the Board
- Tous Shares Reflection – Babak Jahanara, former Vice Chairman of the Board, Mohammad Dehghani, former Chairman of the Board
- Naghsh Gostar Shargh – Babak Jahanara, current Chairman of the Board representing Danayan Pars Investment
- Nikpardazesh Zangan – Babak Jahanara, current Vice Chairman of the Board representing Gostarsh Sarmaye Pardazesh Andisheh Company
- Royan Shahr-e Bad Development – Babak Jahanara, Vice Chairman of the Board
- Asan Sarmaye Pooya-ye Dana – Formerly known as Surin Capital Management
- Toucan Hamafza Andisheh Management and Consulting Group – Related to Danayan Pars Investment and Babak Jahanara
- Omran and Development of Sadr Pars Construction – Babak Jahanara, former member of the Board of Directors and CEO, Ahmad Saee, member of the Board of Directors and former CEO and Chairman of the Board
- Houman Bar Naein Company – Related to Naein Cement Company, of which Abdi is the Chairman of the Board
- Gostarsh Sarmaye Pardaz Andisheh – Companies including Tavrij Alton, Asan Sarmaye Pooya-ye Dana, Nikpardazesh Zangan, Omran and Development of Sadr Pars Construction, Rahavard Zangan Sanat, Tous Shares Reflection, Araz Farmed Iranians, and Naghsh Gostar Shargh are part of this company’s portfolio
- Araz Farmed Iranians Company – Babak Jahanara, former Vice Chairman of the Board
- Sarmaye Ab Khak Tose’e – Babak Jahanara, Chairman, member and Vice Chairman of the Board, Ahmad Saee former CEO and Chairman of the Board representing Tavrij Alton Company
- Pooya Tejarat Faryab – Babak Jahanara, CEO and member of the Board of Directors
- Ayandeh Bank – Babak Jahanara, former member of the Board of Directors
- Danayan Investment Company – One of the parent companies of Surin Capital Management. Some of its portfolio companies are related to Ansar Bank and other institutions of the Revolutionary Guards
One notable aspect of the companies associated with Abdi is that some of them have changed their names over time. For instance, according to official documents, the former name of ‘Surin Capital Management’ was ‘Asan Sarmaye Pooya-ye Dana.’
According to WikiFesad, the name of Asan Sarmaye Pooya-ye Dana was changed to ‘Surin Capital Management’ in the spring of 2020. Abdollah Abdi is the Chairman of the Board of ‘Surin Capital Management,’ and the name ‘Danayan Investment‘ appears among the parent companies of Surin. This company is a subsidiary of the ‘Danayan Financial Group’ holding, with Ahmad Saee as its CEO, and its parent company is mentioned as ‘Pooya Tejarat Faryab.’
Based on available data, the companies and organizations in which Abdi has participated are somehow connected with companies and banks affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards and the Martyrs Foundation.
On the other hand, ‘Atlas Iranians’ is one of the portfolio companies of ‘Danayan Investment.’ This connection links Abdollah Abdi to the large Atlas Iranians holding.
Atlas Iranians was established in 1986 and officially introduced itself as an investment and executive group in the large-scale construction industry in Iran since 2005. This group is a subsidiary of ‘Ansar Bank,’ affiliated with the Sepah Pasdaran Cooperative Foundation.
Some of the construction projects of this holding include Chitgar Residential Town, Atlas Kish Residential Tower, Palm Plaza Residential Town, Atlas Commercial-Administrative Complex, Lexon Office-Commercial Tower, and Bam Niayesh Tehran. This commercial group affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards has monopolized the country’s major construction projects.
The name of Mazandaran Heavy Metal Structures Industries changed to ‘Asmash Heavy Metal Structures’ on October 10, 2016. Abdi was the Chairman of the Board of this company from 2014 until September 5, 2016, when the position was transferred to Habib Sadeghi Zaidi.
Connection to a quasi-mafia ring of political and military officials and institutions such as the Revolutionary Guards and the Martyrs Foundation, and influential relationships like Ghalibaf, have protected Abdollah Abdi. Despite legal violations, frauds, and debts, he has been able to continue trading and amassing wealth through various tricks, instead of being imprisoned or banned from leaving the country.
Ayandeh Bank and Its Debts
In the formation of ‘Ayandeh Bank,’ the traces of Abdollah Abdi’s financial trickery are evident, even though his name is not mentioned. He transformed ‘Zarin Dasht Credit Cooperative’ into ‘Ati Financial and Credit Institution’ and then, through a merger with ‘Tat Bank’ and ‘Salehin Financial and Credit Institution,’ ‘Ayandeh Bank‘ was formed.
In a report published by Rajanews, the question was raised as to why there has always been a deliberate effort to keep the name and history of Abdollah Abdi’s violations and corruption hidden. Rajanews had asked:
According to official documents, in April 2012, Abdollah Abdi, along with Reza Bagherinejad, Mohammad Mehdi Mohammadpour, Hamidreza Esmaeili Firooz, and Aghil Sharifi, purchased ‘Zarin Dasht Workers’ Credit Cooperative of Iranians’ and was introduced as the Chairman of the Board. This cooperative was later renamed to ‘Ati Credit Development Cooperative.’ Thus, Abdollah Abdi became part of the circle of shareholders of Ayandeh Bank.
Abdi’s Second Fraud in the Transformation Process of Ayandeh Bank
In 2012, Mehr News Agency published a report about the violations that occurred during the formation of ‘Ati Financial and Credit Institution.’ Other reports were also published on this matter. The Borna news website even published a court verdict in which Abdollah Abdi was found guilty in connection with the Ati Institution.
According to the court’s verdict issued in December 2020, Abdollah Abdi, Abdollah Fallahdar, and Ati Credit Development were charged with illegal acquisition of property, fraud, abuse, and deception of privileges. They were sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay a monetary fine.
According to Fars News Agency, the debt of Ayandeh Bank to the Central Bank and the banking system has been on an upward trend, increasing from 22,151 billion tomans in 2019 to 29,220 billion tomans in 2020. Of this total debt, more than 5,200 billion tomans is the bank’s debt to the Central Bank.
Currently, ‘Asay Dana Capital Management,’ ‘Iran Mall International Development Company,’ ‘Future Value Creators Company,’ ‘Bahar-e-Eghtesad Kamyaran Trading Company,’ ‘Financial Services and Investment Consulting of Sanjesh Omid Ayandeh,’ ‘Electronic Commerce of Communication Tomorrow,’ ‘Brokerage of Ayandeh Bank,’ and ‘Arian Pardis Dena’ are some of the subsidiaries of this bank. Ayandeh Bank is also part of a network of intertwined holdings and companies. In August 2022, a report was published stating that the companies of Ayandeh Bank had a debt of 81,000 billion tomans to the bank.
Bank Iran Zamin and Its Losses
Abdi, through ‘Asan Sarmaye Pooya-ye Dana,’ is one of the shareholders of ‘Bank Iran Zamin.’ Bank Iran Zamin was established in 2010. Its shares were offered in the Tehran Stock Exchange in 2011. This bank was established by the Central Bank’s upgrading of the Mowla Al-Mohaddin Financial and Credit Institution in November 2008.
Bank Iran Zamin is among the banks that were sanctioned by the US Treasury Department on October 8, 2020.
According to the Naftiha website, ‘Asan Sarmaye Pooya-ye Dana’ is the second major shareholder of this bank, with ‘Ahmad Saee,’ one of Abdi’s partners, as its Chairman of the Board. Saee is currently the CEO of ‘Danayan Financial Group’ and CEO of ‘Ab Khak Tose’e Company,’ and until October 2021, he was the Chairman of the Board of Vandad Business Development.
Saee was the Chairman of the Board of Surin Capital Management until June 2021, after which Abdollah Abdi took over the position. This company, which holds 4.94% of the shares of Bank Iran Zamin, is affiliated with Abdollah Abdi.
A portion of this bank’s shares is owned through companies like ‘Saadi Investment Company’ or ‘Shahed Investment Company,’ which are subsidiaries of the Martyrs Foundation and Veterans Affairs.
According to the Radar Eghtesad website, written in March 2023, Abdi is one of the major shareholders of Bank Iran Zamin, which has been involved in heavy controversies, with some of its shareholders in prison. In the past four years, it has been unable to even hold its general assembly, despite being a listed company with the interests of thousands of real shareholders at stake. This bank is considered bankrupt due to extensive accumulated losses, under Article 141 of the Commercial Code.
Economic analysts attribute the bankruptcy of this bank to mergers with other financial institutions. In a report on the Eghtesad24 website in May 2023, they wrote:
“In the 1390s [Iranian calendar decade], several mergers took place, and the merger of Bank Iran Zamin with the ‘Behman Ehsar’ and ‘Mowla Al-Mohaddin’ institutions was one of them. This merger led to the ruin of Bank Iran Zamin to the extent that this bank has about eight times its capital in accumulated losses, which is actually a result of this merger.”
In May 2023, the highest amount of shares, totaling 395 million shares amounting to 87.9%, is owned by Arman Nikoosagal Company. The majority of the bank’s shares are held by the Retirement Pension Fund as collateral.
Major Debtor of Bank Saderat and Shareholder of Ayandeh Bank and Iran Zamin
What drew the most attention from the public and media about the petrochemical project in Miankaleh was the revelation of Abdollah Abdi’s enormous debt. On April 9, 2022, the Export Development Bank of Iran published a list of debtors, revealing the name of Iran Alborz Steel Company, owned by Abdollah Abdi.
According to the Deputy of Public Rights at the Attorney General’s Office, since 2015, the executive of the Miankaleh Petrochemical project has taken over 58 million euros in loans from the Sari branch of Bank Saderat, which has not yet been repaid, making him one of the major bank debtors.
The loan given to him in two installments of euro loans at the government rate of 3383 tomans in February 2016 amounted to more than 1300 billion tomans. According to Etemad Online, the collateral for this loan is about 431 billion tomans, with about 1000 billion tomans remaining unresolved due to the bank’s action to execute and take possession of the collaterals. Ultimately, if no collateral is executed, Iran Alborz Steel Factory will be owned by the Export Development Bank.
Raja News, in a report about this project, claimed that not only has Abdi not taken any action to settle it, but he is also a shareholder waiting for the bank to take over Iran Alborz Steel Factory and close his case.
Some media speculate a connection between Ali Saleh Abadi, the head of Bank Saderat in 2015 and the current head of the Central Bank, and Abdollah Abdi. They argue that some of Abdi’s loans from the Export Development Bank were granted and defaulted during the time Ali Saleh Abadi was managing this bank.
As we have mentioned several times, Abdi could never have managed several companies simultaneously, traded with two national IDs, and obtained large loans from banks despite a history of fraud and convictions, nor could he have acquired ownership of a major project like the Miankaleh Petrochemical without the privileges and rents allocated to him by security and military institutions.
The immunity he has enjoyed in these years of trading and the wealth he has accumulated undoubtedly bring substantial profits to the officials who have supported the destructive petrochemical project near Miankaleh.
In this investigative report, we have shed light on the background and commercial roles of Abdollah Abdi Nouri. In the next part of this report, we will explore how Abdi obtained the license for ‘Amirabad Mazandaran Petrochemical’ or ‘Gohar Mazandaran Petrochemical Industries’ and what possible reasons led him to seize lands in this area for the construction of a petrochemical plant.
*In relation to companies associated with Abdollah Abdi: WikiFesad has also compiled a list and identified Abdi as directly or indirectly connected to a number of companies. Radio Zamaneh, by referring to official systems and the registration and advertisements in the official newspaper of the Islamic Republic, has confirmed some of these connections and also managed to find other companies that are somehow connected to Abdi’s financial network.