NCRI Webinar: Coronavirus Catastrophe in Iran: Where Are the Resources to Combat the Crisis?

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NCRI Webinar: Coronavirus catastrophe in Iran: Where are the resources to combat the crisis?
NCRI Webinar: Ali Safavi and Shahin Gobadi
On Friday, April 24, the foreign affairs committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran held a webinar, entitled, “Coronavirus catastrophe in Iran: Where are the resources to combat the crisis,” In the webinar, the NCRI officials addressed the cover-up,

and negligence of the Iranian regime in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic that has spread all across Iran and caused the death of over 34,200 Iranians in 296 cities. They also elaborated on how the regime officials including its supreme leader Ali Khamenei and its president, Hassan Rouhani have repeatedly blamed the crisis on U.S. sanctions.

A new report, prepared by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), entitled, “Coronavirus catastrophe in Iran: Where are the resources to combat the crisis,” was rolled out as well.

Ali Safavi and Shahin Gobadi members of the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee were the panelists.

“The problems facing the Iranian people have nothing to do with lack of resources. Even reports in Iran’s state-controlled media make it clear that if Khamenei were to allocate to coronavirus relief just 10 percent of the assets he controls, then all the needs the Iranian people’s urgent needs could be met,” the panelists said adding:

“The decision not to do so is profoundly political. In choosing between preserving his regime and the saving people’s lives, Khamenei has chosen the former,”

“Unlike every other country, the Iranian regime has been covering up the impact of the coronavirus pandemic since the beginning. That cover-up goes beyond the rate of infection and the number of fatalities. It also conceals the fact that the mullahs have stolen and amassed the people’s wealth for use in self-serving projects, at the expense of the people most affected by COVID-19.”

The panelists elaborated on some of the foundations under control of the regime’s supreme leader and IRGC, which holds most of the country’s wealth.

Setad Ejraie Farman Imam

“SETAD” refers to the Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam. In 2013 its net worth was conservatively assessed to be in excess of $95 billion.

SETAD is comprised of two main components, the first of which includes its primary investments and properties, buildings and real estate confiscated from religious minorities, dissidents and opponents. In 2013 it was estimated that this portion of SETAD’s portfolio is worth about $52B. The second portion of SETAD’s holdings includes shares in large companies, which it controls using Khamenei’s authority. The value of these assets was upwards of $43B.

SETAD has set up several so-called “foundations” to cover up its activities. One of them is called the Barekat Foundation, which is active in various financial and commercial enterprises. It has a drug company called Barekat Pharmaceuticals, which controls over 20 subsidiaries. The Etemad Mobin Development company, 38% of whose shares are controlled by SETAD, purchased more than half of Iran’s telecommunications company for about $8B a few years ago.

Astan-e Qods Razavi

Astan-e Qods Razavi is the largest religious endowment in the Muslim world.

The organization and management of all the religious ceremonies and financial gifts for the shrine of the eighth Shiite Imam (Imam Reza) over the past several centuries have been controlled by the Astan-e Qods, whose head is directly appointed by the Supreme Leader. Over the past 42 years, only three people have been handpicked to run this vast institution.

Astan-e Qods employs tens of thousands of workers. It is made up of more than 50 large companies and owns 43% of the land base of Mashhad (the second most populous city in Iran). Its total property holdings are valued at over $20B. Astan-e Qods has complete and independent control over oil fields related to its operations. It has exclusive oil rigs and has full independent authority for importing or exporting oil from areas under its control. Astan-e Qods also owns a portion of Iran’s railways and heavy industries, as well as major mines and natural resources. Its assets and capital are well into tens of billions of dollars.

Mostazafan Foundation (The Foundation of the Abased)

The Mostazafan Foundation oversees close to 140 companies in the food, chemical, petrochemical, metals, building, and agricultural. It owns banks and oil companies. Owing to its special legal status, it can work directly with foreign companies. It has over 200,000 employees. Based on its official financial statements in 2016, Its assets are worth at least about $14B. Mostazafan’s 2016 financial statements claimed revenues of about $7B. Declared net profits in 2016 were $700M.

Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Garrison

The Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Garrison is the main financial and commercial arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It began its activities as a contractor of industrial and construction projects following the ceasefire in the Iran-Iraq War in 1989. Khatam is the largest contractor for government projects in Iran. It has 5,000 subcontractors and about 135,000 employees.

Sherkat Sarmayeh-Gozari Tamin Ejtemai (Shasta) — Social Security Investment Corporation

The Social Security Investment Company is a holding company belonging to the Social Security Organization. The company is active in investments, commerce, trade, and investment banking.

On December 18, 2019, information accessible from 15 banks showed that the fixtures and bank obligations of 456 legal persons and entities amounted to $89.6B, equivalent to the government’s budget in 2020. State companies like the National Oil Company and the Social Security Investment Company had the largest share of bank loans.

In 2014, close to 10% of all the value of the Tehran Stock Exchange belonged to the company’s subsidiaries. Revenues and profits have since been on the rise.

The profits of the Social Security Investment Company at the end of the financial calendar year (March 2019) were more than $2B, which compared to the previous year showed a 213% increase.

National Development (Sovereign) Fund

The National Development (Sovereign) Fund was set up to invest in the regime’s long-term economic projects, but the authority over its spending rests with Khamenei. It is now worth tens of billions of dollars, at least 40 Billion.

Following the elimination of the regime’s chief terrorist and Commander of the extraterritorial Qods Force, Qassem Soleimani, upon Khamenei’s orders additional $200M was awarded to the Qods Force from the National Development Fund.

Prior to that, the government’s public relations office had said that $2B euros from the same fund would be allocated to “defense-related” matters. In previous years, the regime has followed a similar pattern, dedicating a portion of the fund to the defense budget.

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