The Corrupt Mullahs’ Mafia in Iran’s state broadcaster IRIB
IRGC’s greedy generals
The dossier of IRIB
Mohammad Sarafraz, who had been among the senior managers of IRIB for two decades, was appointed as the head of the organization by the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 2014.
Before rising to the presidency of IRIB, he was the extraterritorial deputy of this organization and had a pivotal role in launching its foreign branches, including Press TV, Hispan TV, and the Arabic Al-Alam.
After resigning from his post, Sarafraz exposed the role of the IRGC intelligence branch and other intelligence organizations of the Islamic Republic in major illicit financial activities. He confessed that the head of the IRGC intelligence branch was at the helm of the Guards’ corrupt economic network and will set up anyone who opposes him.
Sarfaraz’s 18-month tenure was accompanied by a lot of controversies that eventually resulted in his resignation in May 2016.
In a television interview, Sarfaraz named several people with high posts in the IRGC who had used security issues as a pretext to derail negotiations from legal processes to their benefit.
The former head of IRIB made the revelation in an interview on May 1, 2019, the full interview in Farsi can be seen here.
Sarfaraz points to the vast economic activities of regime-linked institutes, including the IRGC, EIKO (Setad), and retirement funds, and describes them as rent-seeking activities.
He said, “Many of the deals and corruption cases develop in these units. They have secret relations on top which don’t know left or right, reformist or principalist.”
Sarfaraz tries to describe himself as an independent figure and says that he wants to reform IRIB. But he makes other important remarks in the same interview.
Auctions and IRGC
One of the issues that Mohammad Sarfaraz discusses as he recounts his actions for restoring the financial conditions of IRIB is his effort to fund the organization by auctioning advertisement rights.
He says that while IRIB could have earned 3 trillion tomans from this venue, it had only raked in 1 billion tomans, and this is why it was decided to set up the auction, and after many “obstructions,” the auction was finally held and “many participated.”
According to his remarks, Hossein Taeb, the head of the IRGC intelligence unit and Jamaledin Aberumand, then-coordination assistant and current deputy of the “Soft War Garrison,” were both inclined to take part in the tender, but after intelligence “decided that we want to hold the auction legally, they said that the auction will fail.” Sarfaraz says that eventually, a group that included Ta’avon bank, affiliated with the labor ministry, won the auction, but quickly withdrew down after the labor minister intervened.
Mohammad Sarfaraz said, “Mr. Rabiei, who is a friend and colleague of Mr. Taeb, immediately and illegally ordered Ta’avon bank to withdraw from the project, and with the withdrawal of the banks, they also threatened other members and the auction eventually failed.”
The question is, what stake did Taeb and Aberumand have in auctions of IRIB?
It is evident that with the withdrawal of Tose’eh Ta’avon bank, affiliated with the labor ministry, all the benefits and revenue of the commercials on national TV would be channeled to the IRGC.
Security officials in IRIB and the “tale of a resignation”
In an interview, Mohammad Sarfaraz released his memoirs of 24 years management in the national broadcasting organization, which holds many important points.
In his book, Mohammad Sarfaraz denies the competition between the intelligence ministry and IRGC intelligence and claims that there is close coordination between the two institutes. “Mr. Marevati is the general manager of human resources in the security sector of the intelligence ministry, but he coordinated with IRGC intelligence. After a while that the structure was changed, the head of the security sector estimated that he had about 30 people working in different sections of IRIB who were directly contacted by the intelligence ministry. They had created a network and given the widespread privileges that they had, they played a role in the managers, experts, programs, and many aspects of the organization and were closely coordinated with IRGC intelligence.”
The memoirs of the former head of IRIB contains many details about the theft and backstage deals of the IRGC mafia in Iran. This book has been formatted as a 270-page long interview titled “The Tale of a Resignation.” A part of the book reads:
“These [commercial advertisements] were the focal point of pressure on the organization [IRIB]. We decided to hold an auction and held the auction. In the beginning, it was welcomed, but Mr. Aberumand and Mr. Taeb from the IRGC came and said that we are willing to help, and it was decided that their representatives negotiate with us. There was a meeting at the IRGC-owned Yas Holding. Mr. Mehrdadi, then-CEO of the Yas Holding, and Mr. Babolzadeh, the CEO of IRGC-owned Dana, a person named Seyyed Hadi Razavi, and several others were present at the meeting. From the organization, Messrs. Kardar and Velayati were present. According to the representatives of the organization, in that meeting, they first set that two consortiums will participate in the auction. But they suddenly backtracked and informally pledged through different channels that they would bring about the failure of the auction and change the head of the organization.”
In a part of his memoir, Sarafraz says in his book:
“The Al-Jazeera network had a deep impact in the region. Yet whenever in the organization we said that a powerful Arabic TV network is needed, it was fruitless. But outside the organization [IRIB] and individuals such as Mr. Rahim Safavi, the IRGC’s commander in chief, were in favor of setting up an international news network in Arabic language. One of the critics of setting up the Al-Alam news network was Mr. Seyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah in Lebanon. He said that you Iranians are not familiar with the language and culture of Arabic countries. He was worried that this network would not be able to get the work done. The Al-Menar network of Hezbollah was present and could have done the same thing. In my previous meetings with him, I had suggested the necessity of creating a TV network by Hezbollah. In our meeting, I told him that a network that belongs to Iran and reflects the Islamic Republic of Iran’s position is something different and has its specific role. I said that we have Arab-speaking forces and they are familiar with [Arabic] political literature and news terms and there is nothing to worry about. He should have been satisfied and fortunately, he was softened. Finally setting up Al-Alam network was approved and an amount of $10 million was allocated to it.”
The interesting fact is that apparently, even Hassan Nasrallah was already aware of the failure of the IRGC’s cultural meddling in Arabic countries. But apparently, the transferred money changed his behavior.
In his book and speeches, Sarfaraz while referring to Shahrzad Mirgholi-Khan, who was his personal special inspector and was exiled after being charged for espionage, specifically mentions two members of the IRGC. These two important members of the IRGC’s economic corruption organization are Jamaledin Aberumand and Massoud Mehrdadi.
IRGC member Jamaledin Aberumand until 2019 was the IRGC’s deputy coordinator. In July 2019, he was removed from his position and was replaced by Hossein Salami, the new IRGC commander. Aberumand was later appointed as the deputy commander of the IRGC’s “Soft War Garrison” and held this position until very recently. Following Mohammad Jafari’s resignation as the IRGC’s commander in chief, the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei appointed Jafari as the commander of the IRGC’s Soft War Garrison. Aberumand influences many large economic projects.
We previously pointed to how, as Sarfaraz said, Aberumand participated in a huge auction for airing advertisement on IRIB; but once he saw the auction is legal and he cannot influence it, he caused the auction to fail with the help of Hossein Taeb, the head of IRGC intelligence.
Another member of the IRGC, Massoud Mehrdadi, was a former head of the IRGC’s Cooperative Foundation – a foundation that handles many large contracts without having to go through the legal process. Massoud Mehrdadi is a member of the board of directors of the Revolutionary Guards Cooperative Foundation, Ansar Bank, Mobile Communications Company, Telecommunication Company, as well as dozens of other IRGC companies and institutions. He was the CEO of the IRGC’s “Yas Holding” and was pursuing economic activities.
He is the regime’s renting economy’s man of a thousand faces. He was briefly arrested in 2018 but was released with Hossein Taeb’s help, and he continues his activities in different profitable economic sectors.
In his recent interview, Sarafraz spoke of him as one of those people who, with the support of the IRGC intelligence organization and another intelligence element, had a key role in failing IRIB’s legal auction for advertisement. Massoud Mehrdadi had sent a message to Sarafraz at the time that the legal auction will fail, and it did. This shows Mehrdadi’s direct influence over the Hassan Rouhani’s Ministry of Labor.
Although the corruption and involvement of the IRGC in the IRIB is not limited to these cases and its scope is beyond this data, however, a part of these cases shows that the ruling system of the internal institutions of the Islamic Republic is also managed by the IRGC terrorists.
Even an organization such as the IRIB, whose director on paper is appointed by the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, during the regime’s infightings with corrupted military officials, is another loser, among others.
The conflict between the subordinate institutions of the Supreme Leader, of course, is not limited to the IRIB and the IRGC in these dimensions, but finding these small pieces in the puzzle can show a complete picture of the major corruption in the house of the Supreme Leader.