Nader Maleki is a well-known and well-respected member of Germany’s business community. Maleki is the founder of the Maleki consultancy and media group is also one of the founders of the “International Bankers’ Forum (IBF)”, Germany’s largest privately organized professional body of the banking industry. In addition to his extensive business dealings in Germany, Maleki, who was born in Tehran in 1947 is also one of the more prominent voices in the German business community that often campaigns for business investment in Iran. For this purpose, he makes use of his connections with the German business community to encourage and develop trade and economic relations between Iran and Germany.
One of his more recent efforts for this purpose, he established the “Association of Iranian Banks in Europe (AIBE)” in which he holds the position of Vice Chairman. Recently, the Maleki group became highly involved in the inner-workings of INSTEX, the European special-purpose vehicle established in order to circumvent US-sanctions against Iran. In September, the Maleki Group even organized a three-day seminar on INSTEX that was attended by senior German officials as well as senior figures from the Iranian and German business communities. Some who attended this seminar couldn’t help but notice the pivotal role played by Nader Maleki in mediating between the European and Iranian sides.
What is less known about Maleki are his ties to the IRGC, mostly through various senior businessmen and bankers from IRGC-owned companies. Maleki’s network of IRGC businessmen includes prominent figures like Yahya Foroutan, formerly of the IRGC engineering company Sepanir and a founding board member of Ansar Bank and its current vice managing director. Another one of Maleki’s IRGC contacts is Ali Kargar, Chairman of board of Mehr Eghtesad Bank’s investment arm, Mehr Eghtesad Iranian Investment Company. Kargar, like Foroutan, has been in the service of the IRGC’s financial apparatus, including, a sting of its more infamous companies – Tidewater.
In recent years, Maleki has become an important figure in the circles of the IRGC’s financial elite particularly in wake of the merger of all-military owned banks in Iran into Sepah Bank. This merger has opened a new opportunity for the IRGC-owned banks to transfer funds in and out of Iran. Thus, once this merger was underway, Maleki was asked by his various contacts in the IRGC’s financial elite to facilitate such transfers. In order to comply with this request, Maleki used his connections in Germany and Europe to transfer IRGC funds via Sepah Bank’s Frankfurt branch. Moreover, to further facilitate the IRGC business network in Europe, Maleki founded in 2017 the “Association of Iranian Banks in Europe (AIBE)”. The stated purpose of this association is to strengthen Iran’s banking relationship with Europe and promote European international finance and trade business with Iran. One of the Association’s first members was Sepah Bank’s Frankfurt branch.
Thus, in essence, Maleki uses his stature in the European and particularly German business community to aid the IRGC and in return he gains a position of influence and across to all matters relating to Iran-Europe trade. Namely, to manage INSTEX for both sides.