The former director of state-run broadcasting giant the Islamic Republic Institute of Broadcasting (IRIB) offered a rare glimpse into widespread corruption in Iran’s economic system. Mohammad Sarafraz described in an interview how the business networks through which state-run conglomerates linked to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and quasi-governmental foundations, or bonyads, funnel public funds into private pockets.

“When they want to receive benefits, the companies call themselves private and individuals pocket the proceeds while avoiding (governmental) supervision. When they want to use government funds and facilities, they call themselves state-owned companies,” Sarafraz alleged in a video uploaded to YouTube on May 4.

Conglomerates run by the IRGC, the bonyads, as well as state-linked banks have multiple ways of receiving kickbacks from state coffers, added Sarafraz. “A large part of these financial conspiracies” involves companies owned by the IRGC, Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO)* and other bonyads and associated banks, he explained, adding that the corruption implicates officials across the political spectrum.

“It is not a principlist, reformist or left or right thing,” he said. “They’re all in it together.”

Sarafraz’s statements align with the findings of an unrelated Doublethink investigation on bonyads. He added that such systemic corruption could be resolved by reducing the overhead costs of state-owned companies and implementing structural reforms in the government. “No president or government has ever broached these two issues because of the serious consequences that it would have for them,” he said.

An extensive Doublethink investigation of the Iranian economy revealed that 99 of the country’s top 100 businesses are linked to the bonyads, the government, or both. Hundreds of individuals with ties to EIKO, Mostazafan Foundation, Astan Qods Razavi bonyads and the IRGC-owned Sepah Cooperative Foundation (BTS) sit on the boards of major banks, oil companies, investment funds and regulatory bodies.

Doublethink’s research further shows that Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who legally oversees the bonyads, has shown a consistent lack of will to investigate corrupt activities involving these entities.

Footnote

* Commonly referred to as Setad

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