07292014Tue

Exclusive: Iran’s rulers amass fortunes through sleaze

Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Feb. 03 – Iran Focus has obtained exclusive information from a reliable source in Iran throwing light on sleaze at the senior echelons of officialdom in the Islamic Republic.

The source has provided Iran Focus with a list of senior officials of the clerical regime and the personal fortune each one has amassed. Most of these officials have risen from lower middle class backgrounds to fabulous wealth gathered through corruption and embezzlement.

At eighth place is Ali Jannati, son of powerful cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati and a senior official in Iran’s Interior Ministry. The Jannati family’s private wealth is estimated at two trillion Rials, the equivenlt of $220 million. Senior cleric Ahmad Jannati is the head of the powerful Guardians Council and a close advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

At seventh place is Ayatollah Abolghassem Khazali, former member of the Guardians Council. The powerful council whose members are handpicked by the Supreme Leader is comprised of six clerics and six senior judges and has the power to veto any Majlis legislation. Khazali’s estimated wealth is 2.5 trillion Rials, the equivalent of $275 million, coming mostly from sea trading, paper imports, and book sales.

At sixth place is Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, Iran’s former Judiciary Chief and another member of the Guardians Council. The senior cleric’s estimated wealth stands at three trillion Rials, the equivalent of $330 million.

At fifth place is Iraqi-born Ayatollah Mohammad-Ali Taskhiri, who for years headed the Islamic Culture and Communications Organisation (ICCO). Since 1995, the ICCO has been active in exporting fundamentalism and propaganda directed against Iranian dissidents outside of Iran. Khamenei himself is in charge of the organisation’s policymaking council and its meetings are held at his residence. Adding up the lands in his name and his cash flow, Taskhiri’s personal wealth is above three trillion Rials, the equivalent of $330 million.

Number four in Iran’s rich list is Ayatollah Ali Meshkini, Speaker of the Assembly of Experts, the exclusively clerical body that designates the country’s Supreme Leader. In a country where many of the theocracy’s ruling elite are in-laws, Meshkini is father in law to Mohammad Reyshahri, the Islamic Republic’s first Minister of Intelligence and Security. Meshkini’s personal wealth, coming in from mostly sugar trade and the industrial-scale printers, is well above three trillion Rials, the equivalent of $330 million.

Well ahead at third place is the former Commandant of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Mohsen Rezai. Rezai, a close aide to former President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has amassed a personal wealth of six trillion Rials, or $660 million. While at the top of the IRGC, Rezai was known by many titles ranging from Major General to “darsadgir General” (literally, the general that takes commissions).

Number two on the list of officials who have become notoriously rich is Ayatollah Vaez Tabasi, known widely as the Sultan of Khorassan. Vaez Tabasi and his children have amassed an estimated fortune of seven trillion Rials, or $770 million. Their income primarily comes from sugar trade and the sale of real estate in Iran’s central Qods province.

At the top slot comes, unsurprisingly to Iran observers, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, whose family rules over a vast financial and business empire. From the pistachio farms of his hometown Rafsanjan to huge oil trading companies, the ruling theocracy’s former president has used his power and influence to expand his wealth. Conservative estimates put his fortune at well beyond the 10 trillion Rial mark, the equivalent of $1.1 billion.

Most of the powerful cleric’s enormous wealth is vested in the hands of his sons and daughters, as well as other close relatives such as his brothers, nephews, and bother-in-laws, and son-in-laws. One of his villas was sold in 2004 for roughly 29 billion Rials. His brother, Mohammad Hashemi, the former chief of the state broadcasting corporation, owns the company Taha, which imports industrial-scale printers.

The image of “rich ayatollahs driving around in bullet-proof Mercedes” has become the butt of many jokes and the cause of much resentment in a country where, according to World Bank figures, the per capital income has fallen to a fifth of its 1970s value. Despite Iran’s huge export revenues and unexpected surpluses from the giant oil market jumps in recent months and years, the country’s budget is constantly in a state of flux showing no signs that it will sustain any time soon, inflation is at 16 percent and rising, and the economic growth rate is projected to fall throughout 2006.

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