BY WILLIAM NEUMAN
CARACAS, Venezuela — When German customs agents at the Düsseldorf airport found a check for the equivalent of nearly $70 million in Venezuelan currency in the carry-on bag of a former Iranian economy minister last month, it seemed like the elements of an international thriller.
But an Iranian construction company contended on Tuesday that the reality was much more mundane: the money, it said, was meant to pay wages and buy concrete and other materials as part of a project to build 10,000 apartments in Venezuela.
“They’re buildings, not bombs, not missiles,” said a lawyer for the company, Kayson Venezuela, mocking speculation here that the company’s construction projects were a front for more sinister activities.
The lawyer, interviewed at the company’s offices in Caracas, refused to give his name, citing company policy.