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Why Iranians Invest in Georgia

Published: June 21, 2013 | 11:07 pm
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Economic sanctions against Iran have made it increasingly hard for Iranians to do business abroad. But Iranian businessmen are flocking to Georgia, a longtime U.S. ally in the Caucasus region, to pursue profits evaporating in much of the world, reports Wall Street Journal. According to the publication,In recent months, Iranian nationals have taken the reins of a private Georgian airline, a major trade bank and a scrap-metal plant.

Iranian products ranging from roofing materials to sour-cherry jam are pouring into Georgian markets, made more attractive by Iran’s weak currency. Iran’s government itself is buying Georgian land, Iran’s agriculture minister has told Iranian media.

The publication reads that in some cases, they may have reason for concern. The business branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has some 150 front companies in Georgia for the purpose of evading sanctions and importing dual-use technology, according to two members of the Revolutionary Guard and to the head of a Tbilisi facilitator agency—who said he helped set up such firms registered under Georgians’ names.

“Investing in Georgia is a way of skirting the sanctions,” Iranian media quoted an Iranian development official as saying in December.

Companies registered by Iranians in Georgia shot up to 1,489 last year from just 84 in 2010, a corporate registry shows.

Three men have driven the Iranian investment boom in Georgia, according to corporate documents and Georgian and Mideast businessmen.

Houshang Hosseinpour, Pourya Nayebi and Houshang Farsoudeh have jointly established one of Georgia’s first private airlines, FlyGeorgia; have gained control of a bank, JSC InvestBank; and have opened a string of other ventures.

As Invetsbank representative told TV3, the information is false and their activities are public and just. According to the company’s director, the company will respond to the spread information.

As for fly Georgia, the company denies even the knowledge of the existence of the abve-mentioned information.

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