By Zaman Feyli
Within the state-controlled economy of the Islamic regime, many senior regime officials have created their own private business monopolies. These monopolies are described as “micro-governments,” or “quasi-governmental sectors.”
As all of these “quasi-governmental sectors” are themselves financially dominated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the IRGC’s protection allows them to operate without any legal restraints. Regime officials are thus able to extort funds or seize assets from private businesses under the cover of the “Supreme Leader’s demands” (Manwiat’eh Rahbari).
Embezzlement is institutionalized in the regime, and the higher someone ranks within it, the more involved they are in embezzlement and corruption.
As a result, while petty thieves are publicly flagellated and dismembered, the biggest criminals go unpunished.
In recent years, many regime officials have left Iran after stealing astronomical amounts of money. Regime officials who do wind up being charged with embezzlement usually are charged as a result of their not paying the proper bribes to the IRGC. In other instances, corrupt officials will mark one of their own as a scapegoat, have him arrested and given a show trial, and thus erase the money trail showing how the whole embezzlement scheme was carried out.
One thing that is very clear in regard to corruption and embezzlement in the Islamic regime is that trail of systemic corruption leads up to the Supreme Leader’s entourage (bayt), and his sons.
The mullahgarchic gang have plundered Iran and transferred money to other countries. The Islamic regime is famous for giving new and obscurant definitions of words, as such, they refer to stealing as embezzlement, and Mafia bosses, the officials who control a certain economic sector, are called “kings.” Various officials are thus referred to as the king of Dollars, gold coins, oil, sugar, pharmaceuticals, etc.
On September 13th, one of the regime’s most powerful ‘kings’ died. The 86-year-old Asadollah Asgaroladi-Mosalman aka ‘the king of cumin,’ was known to have a hand in every aspect of Iran’s foreign trade, and who just happened to be a business partner of Clinton-supporter, Marc Rich.
Asadollah and his older brother of Habibollah Asgaroladi, whose family had converted from Judaism to Islam (hence the additional reiteration of “Mosalman” to their family name), were close friends of Khomeni since the 1950’s. The three men had been supporters of the Fada’iyan-e Islam, the Iranian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, that had committed a number of assassinations and terrorist attacks during the 1940s and ‘50s.
To better coordinate their activities, Khomeini suggested that all the surviving Fada’iyan cells in Iran regroup into a a highly secretive organization, which was dubbed the Islamic Coalition Assembly (Jamiat’eh Motalefeh’yeh Eslami).
Due to his having been at Khomeini’s side from the beginning of his political life, Assadollah Asgaroladi received many prominent positions in the regime. Among many other posts, he was made the head of several international Chambers of Commerce, including the Iran-China, Iran-Australia, Iran-Russia, and Iran-Canada Chambers of Commerce, and his brother was appointed minister of trade, despite neither having any training in economics.
Assadollah alone is conservatively said to have had a net worth of approximately $9 billion. The de facto mobster of the Islamic regime, owned Hasas, Co. which also has an office in London. There are no checks and balances or financial records of this company. The company was established in 1953, though the family began becoming wealthy after the advent of the Khomeinist regime, at which time, Iran had two parallel exchange rates for the dollar, when the Asgaroladi brothers purchased large sums of US dollars at the lower exchange rate, reselling for a several hundred fold profit.
Among other financial schemes, the Asgaroladis also ran the “Export Currency (arz’eh saaderaati),” in other words, the capital earned from the export of non-oil goods. The issuer who possesses this type of currency can either assign it for purchasing government-designated goods, or sell it to other importers. The export exchange rate is higher than the government exchange rate, and less than the free exchange rate. Asadollah Asgaroladi later used this position to help the regime evade international sanctions placed against it. He admitted doing this and even offered details in a TV interview.
Asgaroladi’s wealth grew to include assets outside Iran. He was the majority stockholder in three Chinese banks, and he was an investor in many European corporations.
As a professed Khomeiniist, Asgaroladi pretended to live a simple life, yet he often boasted about his wealth. He drove a state of the art, bulletproof Mercedes and his headquarters, an old building on Tehran’s Motahari Avenue, was decorated like a traditional trade chamber, without modern equipment such as computers. He never used attaché cases or bags; instead holding his business documents securely under his armpits to give the illusion he was only a regular old merchant.
Doing business in Iran without having connections to the regime’s security forces, especially the IRGC, is almost impossible. Transparency in the Islamic regime is now at its lowest point, as even the highest-level officials admit that a powerful system of political patronage, nepotism, and cronyism pervades all sectors of the economy.
Senior officials engage in embezzlement with impunity. Asadollah Asgaroladi was only one amongst many of an elite who compete with each other to plunder as much of Iran’s natural and financial resources as they can.
The Free Iranian staff contributed to this report.