In social media posts, Iran-based journalists say that the accused, Reza Hamzehlou, is not in custody. He was, in fact, seen in Qom on Sunday, and travelled to Mashhad on Monday to seek the support of an influential ayatollah.
It seems that the case focuses on personal profit made by the accused during the process of circumventing U.S. sanctions against Iran. While Tehran’s prosecutor insists that there is no embezzlement involved, he adds, “there was corruption.” He also said that the case is still under investigation.
Hamzehlou is alleged to be an official at a religious foundation under the aegis of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, The Assembly for Proximity of Islamic Religions. The foundation claims that its main objective is fostering better relations between Shiite and Sunni sects, and its chairman is appointed by Khamenei. Reports that have named Hamzehlou as its deputy chairman for economic affairs have been denied, but reports that he is the chairman of an affiliate organization were not.
Hamzehlou once chaired the economic committee of the International Conference on Unity, which was sponsored by the assembly, according to the Young Journalists Club. Individuals like Hamzehlou are apparently nominated by other institutions and “prominent personalities of the political system” — a remark that may allude to Khamenei.
What is clear, is that without the knowledge or permission of the Iranian Regime’s Supreme Leader, so much money could never have been obtained.
Hamzehlou is the former managing director of the Iranian Petrochemical Commercial Company (PCC). He was named by the prosecutor for having made personal gains from government funds in partnership with another suspect, Marjan Sheikholeslami. Two trading companies in Turkey are owned by Sheikholeslami, who was Hamzehlou’s main partner in selling oil related products.
While Hamzehlou is the prime suspect in the case, many have named Alinaqi Khamoushi, a prominent figure in the influential conservative Islamic Coalition Party, as the man behind PCC. Khamoushi’s Iranian Investment Company owned 52 percent of PCC’s shares.
Mohsen Ahmadian was also named as another who was involved in the case and was nicknamed by the IRGC-linked Fars news agency as the Sultan of Petrochemicals.
Iran watchers have named a former deputy intelligence minister as one of those involved in the case.