On August 16, in an interview with the state-run Etemad Online, Ahmad Tavakkoli, a member of the Expediency Council and head of the Transparency and Justice Organization, revealed new scopes of systematic corruption in Iran. He frankly said, “We lied to the people and disgraced Islam.”
He once again reiterated the regime’s main concerns about public protests. “In such circumstances, the Islamic Republic has significantly lost public trust, which has created a dangerous situation,” Tavakkoli said. Simultaneously, he tried to distance the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei form his responsibility for the country’s status quo. However, he could not cover the fact that Khamenei-supervised financial institutions, such as the Mostazafan Foundation, have been mired in corruption.
“Several people had been greedy and began collecting properties, leading led the country to such circumstances,” said Tavakkoli. In response to a question about the Mostazafan Foundation’s skyrocketing wealth, he said, “It was supposed to impound oppressors’ properties and offer them to underprivileged citizens… However, some illiterate and cruel judges falsely or intentionally seized ordinary people’s assets and properties.”
Notably, the Mostazafan Foundation, the Execution of the Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO) office, and similar organizations have seized billions of dollars from citizens’ properties and distributed the wealth among state-backed individuals and entities under the pretext of “endowments.”
“With a 360-trillion-rial [approximately $1.5 billion] turnover, there would not be a negative result if the managers are good and the foundation’s functions are well monitored. However, if there were profiteering managers—of course, some of them were such people—there will be negative consequences,” Tavakkoli asserted.
He also mentioned that the regime, in its entirety, has lost its reputation among Iran’s society. “Dramatic decrease in the public’s trust is not due to the actions of one individual or one entity… For instance, people do not trust the Ministry of Roads and Urban Developments. They say there is corruption, and they are right. The people do not trust in the Central Bank [of Iran (CBI)] … The people consider these actions as the outcome of the state’s imprudence and mismanagement,” Tavakkoli added.
“The CBI collected $27 billion from the people but did not refund… They convert 65 tons of gold to coin and granted it to improper people. These acts were not applied under the supervision of the Mostazafan Foundation. Therefore, the protests are not specified to this foundation,” Tavakkoli continued, implicitly acknowledging systematic corruption.
“In December 2018, I suggested the supreme leader start the counter-corruption campaign from his staff. In cooperation with a group of young experts, I provided a plan and delivered it to the supreme leader’s office. However, the office did not welcome the issue and our plan for transparency”, Tavakkoli explained.
It is a fact that financial institutions affiliated to the supreme leader control more than 60 percent of Iran’s economy, according to the former Labor Minister Behzad Nabavi. On the other hand, these institutions spend the country’s national resources on foreign terrorism and domestic suppression instead of attempting to improve people’s living conditions.
Iranian authorities repeatedly attempt to attribute the country’s economic dilemmas to foreign affairs, including U.S. sanctions. However, as Tavakkoli openly says, “The people consider these [problems] being the outcome of the state’s imprudence and mismanagement. The protests are not specified to the Mostazafan Foundation.”
Finally, Tavakkoli concluded that these developments had destroyed public trust, describing them as “the state’s national and social capital.” He also admitted that the judiciary’s verdicts against political offenders are much more severe than economic criminals’ judgments.
In fact, Tavakkoli, similar to other officials, see more protests on the horizon in response to the mullahs’ recent failures in different aspects. Such developments would severely threaten the regime’s survival. It is worth noting that in recent protests, mostly ignited by economic grievances, the people directly addressed Khamenei in their anti-establishment slogans.