The unusual partnership between Mikhail Fridman, a Russian oligarch who heads Alfa Bank and is worth $13 billion, and the former head of the American Jewish Congress comes at a time of raised tensions between Iran and Israel over Iran’s burgeoning nuclear program.
According to the New York Post, it originally informed Rosen that Fridman is connected to the construction of Iran’s nuclear energy plant in Bushehr, which became active last September. The newspaper reports that Rosen told them he subsequently spoke with Fridman about the matter, and the developer was satisfied with the banker’s explanation. “If [Fridman] knew he directly funded a nuclear facility in Iran, I would express my disappointment,” Rosen told The Post. “He told me that Alfa never directly funded nuclear projects.”
Fridman’s Alfa Bank reportedly provided financing throughout the previous decade to Atomstroyexport, the state-owned Russian nuclear vendor that was responsible for installing the nuclear reactors at Bushehr. Rosen told The Post that Fridman never revealed the connection to him.
After receiving money from various manufacturers and investors, Atomstroyexport distributes those funds to nuclear projects in China and Iran. Rosen claims that many banks – including Fridman’s – are unaware of how the money they lend is used. The Sunday Times of London has called the Alfa Group, which has interests in oil and telecommunications besides banking, “one of the most controversial business empires on the planet.”