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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Corruption among Iranian Mullahs

What is not generally appreciated is that being an Ayatollah is a very profitable business. This is illustrated in this article from Rooz, but it is obviously only the tip of the iceberg. Drug trade and prostitution could not exist in a police state like Iran without tacit official cooperation - yet both evils are rampant.

Unprecedented Revelations against Senior Iranian Clerics
A Member of the Majlis Investigative Committee - 2008.06.10
Mahbubeh Niknahad
A film and the speech of Abbas Palizar, a member of Iran's Majlis Investigative ‎Committee are now available on the Internet for the public, whose contents expose the ‎country's judiciary and senior clerics. Palizar made his speech at Hamedan University in ‎western Iran and named leading politicians and clerics from the conservative camp and ‎accused them of engaging in corrupt economic practices. He also revealed that the plane ‎crash that carried, and killed, Iran's former minister of transportation during Khatami's ‎presidency was the work of sabotage by insiders, and also that another air crash that ‎killed a former army commander at the Passdaran, Ahmad Kazemi, was at the least ‎‎"suspicious".‎
Who is this new exposer?‎
The person whose revelations at Hamedan University have now attained sensational ‎quality was for some time the "operational secretary" of the research unit of the seventh ‎Majlis where his key responsibility was to head the (Infrastructure Research Bureau) ‎Daftare Motaleat Zirbanai. He was the leading figure to draw up a plan to punish those ‎who committed economic disruption and prior to being the head the Majlis research unit, ‎he was the advisor to the Majlis Economic Committee and the Chairman and ‎spokesperson of the Board of Trustees of the House of Industrialists of Iran (Khane ‎Sanatgaran'e Iran). He had made an unsuccessful bid for Tehran's provincial council ‎while running on the list that supported president Ahmadinejad.‎
The End of the Conservatists' Grouping and the Repetition of Old Accusations
Palizar called the country's judiciary "the center of economic corruption" and forcefully ‎asserted that neither the judiciary branch nor the State Inspectorate Organization would ‎cooperate with the Majlis in its investigations over corruption. "The State Inspectorate ‎Organization strived to prevent the investigative committee of the Majlis from gaining ‎access to the existing corruption cases and to accomplish this provided forced leave to its ‎members, while with the passage of a year, we eventually gained access to the data on ‎this", he said.‎
In detailing the corruption, he said, "One day a one of these cleric came to me and said ‎that he had a disabled son and wanted to build a physical therapy center to be run under ‎his management. We registered the center. Then he came and said that he desired to have ‎a financial passport (license) and asked us to give him the license to operate the Dehbid ‎stone mining company in Fars province, a company that has the best stones in the world. ‎After that, he came and asked for the license to operate yet another mine in Zanjan ‎province. Today, he operates four mines and owns the license to a physical therapy ‎center." Students at Hamedan University asked for more details and the name of the ‎cleric and he told them that it was ayatollah Imami Kashani (member of the Guardians ‎Council and one of the 4 temporary Friday prayer leaders of Tehran).‎
In another part of his speech at Hamedan, Palizar said, "Another ayatollah once went to ‎the leader and said that they wanted to build a law university for women in Qom. He got ‎the license to do that. Immediately after that however he requested a financial passport ‎‎(license) for Dena Tire Company. The then minister of industries Mr. Nematzadeh told ‎him that he would give him the company at the price of 126 billion Toman (about $126 ‎million). The real market value of the company was 600 billion Toman ($600 million). ‎Soon, these gentlemen were asking for discounts on the price of the tire company and ‎eventually settled for 10 billion Toman (about $10 million). But then they said that they ‎did not have the money and so would pay 80 percent of the price in installments. ‎Nematzadeh accepted that. But they returned and said that they did not even have the 20 ‎percent in cash but would pay it by selling some assets of the company. This is how ‎easily he acquired the company, and then sold it in the market soon after." Students again ‎asked for the name of the cleric and Palizar burst it out: ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi ‎‎(current member of the Guardians Council and Experts Assembly, former head of the ‎judiciary and the new leader of the Teachers of Qom Theological Center, which is the ‎most important grouping of the conservative clerics in Iran). ‎
Palizar continued with his story: "Ayatollah Yazdi continued his drive and wrote a letter ‎to Mr. Foruzesh, the then minister of industries arguing that his son, Hamid was jobless ‎and requested that arrangements be made so he could export wood from the forests of ‎northern Iran. It is interesting that Hamid Yazdi was a director general at the judiciary. ‎But soon the forests of the north were looted. At the same time, a group of local residents ‎were arrested for cutting down trees (which they did in amounts sufficient for their ‎personal needs) and imprisoned, which led to riots in front of the prison where they were ‎detained."‎
Palizar mentioned another case of fraud to belong to Iran Khodro car manufacturing ‎plant. "Iran Khodro company was transferred to judges who owned Persia Machine plant ‎at half the market price, while the rest was supposed to have been paid in installments by ‎buyers of the vehicles, most of which were never paid. But this state of affairs did lead to ‎protests. For example, a group calling itself members of the Nahjol-Balaghe foundation ‎came and said that they wanted 500 cars with the same terms. And who do you think are ‎the members of this foundation? None other than Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri (former head ‎of the Special Investigative Unit of the Leaders Office), Mohsen Refighdoost (former ‎head of the Mostazafin Foundation), Asqar Oladi (the former secretary of the ‎conservative 'Jamiate Motalef Islami' i.e. Islamic Coalition Association) Moezi (deputy ‎director of the Leader's office), etc. After this episode came another foundation, ‎Hamgaraie Andishe belonging to cleric Falahian (former minister of intelligence) and ‎ayatollah Elm Alhoda (the radical cleric of Mashhad)."‎
Adding to the list, Palizar continued his drive by adding that the Tabas Stone Mining ‎Company and twelve other large mines in the country in Khorasan province (the largest ‎province in the country) in eastern Iran were handed over to ayatollah Vaezi Tabasi, the ‎representative of the leader of Iran in that province.‎
Moving to a different area, Majlis deputy Palizar revealed that the cause for the crash of ‎two aircraft that carried senior officials of the Islamic regime (Rahman Dadman the ‎minister of transportation during Khatami's administration in 2002 who lost his life in the ‎crash and Ahmad Kazemi, the former commander of the Passdaran ground forces who ‎was killed in the helicopter crash of 2006) could be attributed to intentional planning in ‎which one of the then leaders of the Passdaran had a hand in (no details are provided). ‎The Dadman incident was pre-planned. The 1000-page dossier regarding this air crash ‎demonstrates this (again no details are provided)."‎
As the list got longer, Palizar mentioned the importation of contraband through one of the ‎airports called Payam and said, "The grand smuggler of Payam airport has 1,500 court ‎cases for smuggling, but nobody has arrested him yet because he is under the protection ‎of cleric Nategh Nouri."‎
The sugar industry in Iran was not left out of these revelations, and Palizar said in this ‎regard, "Mr. Modalal, the son in law of one of the senior clerics in Iran (this is a ‎reference to ayatollah Makarem Shiraz, who is also a source of emulation) was the king ‎of sugar and of the sugar mafia. Modalal worked with a person named Mohammad Reza ‎Yusefi both of whom were willing to pay 700 billion Toman ($700 million) in hush ‎money when the case was exposed."‎
Palizar ended his expose by naming Hashemi Rafsanjani and his family members to be ‎economically corrupt and said, "Their economic corruption is so wide that it is not ‎possible to list them. But one of them is in their lack of payment of taxes to the ‎government."‎
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