WASHINGTON - An American with links to the Central Intelligence Agency was investigating suspicions that Iranian government officials were diverting petroleum funds and laundering them through Canada when he went missing in Iran in 2007, a lawyer for his family said on Friday.
Robert Levinson, a private detective and former FBI agent, was investigating allegations of corruption by well-connected people in Iran, lawyer David McGee told Reuters.
McGee, who has been looking into Levinson's disappearance for six years, said the missing American's inquiry involved trying to trace money laundered through Iranian exiles living in Toronto. He did not provide further details of the investigation.
Reuters could not immediately verify McGee's assertions. It was not clear whether Levinson was working for the CIA or a private client at the time of his disappearance.
The Associated Press and The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Levinson was not a private citizen on a business trip to Iran in 2007 as the US government often said but was in fact working for a rogue CIA operation when he disappeared.
Current and former US officials acknowledged to Reuters on Friday that Levinson had a relationship with the CIA as a source at the time he visited Kish Island, a resort in the Gulf, and disappeared.
His arrangement with the CIA's intelligence division, which is not authorised to handle informants, went against the agency's protocol, US officials said.
McGee acknowledged details of Levinson's visit to Iran after the publication of the Associated Press and Washington Post articles.