This article is a part of a series of posts about the Iranian supreme leader “Ali Khamenei’s Economic Empire” that explores the real scope of national resources seized by Khamenei-affiliated companies when Iran is in severe need to counter natural and manmade crises like the novel coronavirus.
The Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO), otherwise known as the Executive Headquarters of Imam’s Directive, or simply Setad [headquarters in Persian], was launched on April 26, 1989, based on a two-paragraph order issued by Iran’s first Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini.
In his order, Khomeini appointed three of his aides Habibollah Asgaroladi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Hassan Sane’s to manage, maintain or sell properties confiscated or abandoned during the chaotic years following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
In other words, Khomeini ordered his aides to implement Article 49 of the Islamic Republic Constitution, which granted the right to the government to seize all abandoned wealth and spend somehow they expedite.
“The government had the right to confiscate all wealth accumulated through usury, seizure, bribe, embezzlement, robbery, gamble, and misuse of endowments, contracts, and government trades, sale the deceased’s lands, holding corrupt centers, and other illegal means, and return it to its legitimate owners; and if those owners could not be identified, entrust it ‘to the public treasury,’” Article 49 says.
Notably, the Setad reportedly resorted force to confiscate several properties belonged to political dissidents and ethnic and religious minorities like the Baha’is. “Out of around 10,000 cases studied by the Setad in the past 17 years… around 50 percent were relevant to Iranian Muslims who departed the country… and parts or whole of property were confiscated because they were abroad,” Baztab website wrote in November 2013.
Therefore, we can roughly estimate the real wealth of the EIKO by digging into Article 49. Of course, the real scope of EIKO’s capital still remains a secret because there is no information about undocumented properties that have been confiscated by Setad’s directors.
Up to 1994, there are no details about this organization’s functions and resources. However, the current Supreme Leader appointed Mohammad Shariatmadari, a co-founder of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), as the CEO of Setad. Three years later, Shariatmadari was replaced with Mohammad Javad Iravani.
Irvani’s tenure lasted ten years until when he was replaced with Mohammad Mokhber in 2007. Mokhber’s overseeing of this organization coincided with fundamental changes. “Setad’s wealth in Property Section amounts over $51.706 billion,” announced Aref Nowruzi, the director-general of EIKO’s Property Section, in 2008.
“With reforming the EIKO’s structure, this complex turned from a property-sale company to an economic stream. The Tabligh economic group possesses five subsidiaries, including construction, oil, energy, industry and finance, and Intelligence and Communication Technology (ICT). In the new structure, traditional properties convert to new investments in modern fields,” said Nowruzi in March 2010.
Setad Consists of Judicial and Economic Arms:
First, the judicial section under Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i, first deputy of the judiciary chief, is tasked with ending up controversial cases in line with EIKO’s privileges, according to Article 49.
In this respect, EIKO managed to confiscate belongings and estates of dissidents who had to flee due to judicial cases and life risks.
However, Setad’s main part is its economic arm. This arm had not been registered as a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB). Furthermore, the Parliament (Majlis) did not mention EIKO as an NDPB in its July 20, 1994 bill.
According to Article 5 of the country’s general accounting law, NDPBs or Quasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organizations (QUANGO) are specified bodies that have been established or establishing for public services. These bodies include Veterans’ Foundation, Omid Entrepreneurship Fund, Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation, Red Crescent, Martyrs’ Foundation, Housing Foundation, Security Insurance Organization, National Olympic Committee, and the Medical Council.
Subsidiaries of the Economic Arm:
- EIKO’s Property and Estate Organization, which accumulates all properties, estates, houses, historic and cultural complexes, and the entire money that EIKO receives based on Article 49. According to its head, the organization’s wealth was over $51 billion in 2008.
- Tadbir Economic Development Group consists of several holdings are as follow:
– Tadbir Energy Development Group includes 11 major companies, which are active in oil and electricity plant fields.
– Iran Mobin Electronic Development includes nine major firms, which are active in the communication sector.
– Tadbir Investment Group includes five investing companies that are active in different investment sectors.
– Tadbir Construction Development Holding possesses seven major construction companies that carry out massive projects.
– Tadbir Industry and Mine Development Company includes two mine companies.
– Noandishan [Innovators] Cultivation and Industry Company possesses three major companies that are active in the agriculture and livestock sectors.
– Tadbir New Pharmaceutical Technologies Investment Company, Tadbir Economic Development Group Company, Tadbir Management Consulting and Strategic Studies Group Company, Modaber Investment Company, Tadbir Farmed Investment Company, Zarrin Kesht Paydar Zarandieh Company, Jahan Ara Arvand Steel Company, Green Paper Company, Zarrindam Paydar Tadbir Company, Pars Foolad Jam Sama Heavy Metallurgical Equipment Company, Barakat Ehsan Social Foundation Non-Commercial Institute, Energy Gostar Nasir Company, Iran and Shargh Leasing Company, Pardis Investment Company, Rishmak Production, and Export Company, Tous Cultivation Manager Company, Tadbirgaran-e Farda Brokerage Company, Pasargad Industry, and Mine Development Company.
- Barekat Foundation has a Pharmaceutical holding called Barekat Pharmaceutical Group. The group was founded in 2010, named Tadbir innovation pharmaceutical company. It possesses around 25 subsidiaries, which are active in producing, distributing, and importing medicine.
This group control 14 percent of the country’s medicine market. It also manages 10 hospitals in different cities across Iran.
The foundation also built a pharmaceutical industrial town with an initial investment valued at $160 million. Moreover, it has an insurance company named “Barekat Insurance,” which is active in car insurance, property insurance, personal insurance, position insurance.
- Setad officially started financial activities and involved in the financial market by establishing Amin Investment Bank and purchasing shares of several banks and economic institutions. In November 2013, in an exclusive report, Reuters revealed that Khamenei controls a business empire worth around $95 billion.
“The little-known organization, called Setad, is one of the keys to the Iranian leader’s enduring power and now holds stakes in nearly every sector of Iranian industry, including finance, oil, telecommunications, the production of birth-control pills and even ostrich farming,” Reuters noted.
- Rey Investment Company became another EIKO subsidiary in 2010. At the time, this company was valued around $40 billion. It was directed by former Intelligence and Security Minister Mohammad Mohammadi Reyshahri.
This company had collected the people’s endowment and charities poured in holy shrines and invested the capital in profitable sectors. Given the mismanagement and corrupt cases, the government declined its economic aid to the company, leading Rey to collapse.
However, in late 2010, Reyshahri was sacked and the company allocated to EIKO. Since then, this company has acted as an EIKO subsidiary and implemented Setad’s policies.
- Ayandehsazan Economic Development Company or Tose’e Eghtesad Ayandehsazan Company (TEACO) was established in June 2010. This company is the EIKO’s instrument for trading and managing all of its international companies.
TEACO’s managing board claims that this is a private company led by Iranian investors. However, EIKO appoints the managing board members. This company is considered the parent of dozens of companies led by officials’ children (Aghazadeh).
Since July 2010, given EIKO’s involvement in nuclear or ballistic missiles activities, the European Union sanctioned Mohammad Mokhber, who headed Setad.
On June 4, 2013, pursuant to United States Executive Order 13599, U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned EIKO, describing it as a “Massive Network of Front Companies.”
In this context, in addition to EIKO, the government uses TEACO and its subsidiaries as front companies to circumvent sanctions. Since December 2010, EIKO transferred a significant number of its Central European-based companies to TEACO. Most of these companies are managed by dual-nationality directors. For instance, Reyco was a German subsidiary for Rey Company. There are no public relations between Reyco, Rey Investment Company, TEACO, or the Iranian government.
On paper, Reyco belongs to MCS Engineering and MCS International. However, the Iranian government abused Reyco to circumvent sanctions. Later, TEACO exploited Reyco to purchase a German-based bank for the Iranian government.
Mannesman Cylinder Systems Company brevity MCS International GmbH is a German company. The company was on the verge of collapse. However, EIKO purchased the company and converted it to a gate for investment in Europe.
MCS Engineering Company is another German-based company led by Iranian-German individuals to cover EIKO’s investments in Europe.
Dubai-based GRTC Company is another of EIKO’s front company. In early 2011, Setad exploited GRTC to inject €7.5 million to Mannesman Cylinder Systems Company.
LTD Cylinder Company is a Croatia-based company. In October 2010, EIKO changed its managing board and transferred the company to the TEACO complex. LTD Cylinder invested in European companies to facilitate EIKO’s trades.
One Vision Investments 5 (Pty) LTD Company is a South Africa-based company had led by Rey company. However, EIKO transferred it to the TEACO complex to cover its ties and facilitate its money transferring and trades through a South African lifeline.
One Class Properties Company is another South Africa-based company that EIKO uses for covering TEACO’s relations with Tehran.
The next piece will focus on the Mostazafan Foundation, another pillar of Khamenei’s empire of wealth.