“Kerman Circle” and the IRGC
A thorough understanding of the Iranian regime leads to an understanding that its ruling principle, Velayat-e-Faqih, or absolute rule by clerics, is the main source of that regime’s widespread corruption.Working from that principle, the clerics and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have developed institutions with the express purpose of building extremely reactionary views into the main support structure for the Iranian government.
The same cadre of closely-related individuals have been pursuing this scheme for more than 40 years. As such, they have effectively altered the political and economic systems in favor of their own self-interest. Among the beneficiaries are members of the “Kerman Circle”, a part of the IRGC’s mafia system in the “Republic of Sultans”—in reference to a term used in Iranian state media regarding the heads of corrupt mafias.
In January 2014, Yadollah Movahed, the head of Kerman Province judiciary, announced the details of the 13 trillion toman corruption case. In a speech, he explained:
“Taking into account the issuance of unsecured bank guarantees in the amount of 571 billion tomans and also the issuance of unsupported checks in the amount of 12.7 trillion tomans, the financial corruption of Takhti branch of Kerman Tejarat Bank, the total amount of this corruption has reached 13.271 trillion tomans.”
Movahed also revealed that investigators had looked into a number of unsecured guarantees that been received in the Takhti branch of Tejarat Bank in Kerman. The investigation revealed a scheme whereby banks or funds that needed a sum of money would ask the Tejarat bank to deposit the money through an interbank check, after which they would return it several days later. It also discovered that related fraudulent practices had led to a large number of bank guarantees being out of stock within five years.
The news report was a bombshell in the Iranian media, but after a while, like the previous news about embezzlement and corruption, it was marginalized.
Nevertheless, Ali Akbar Emarat Saz, Executive Deputy Manager of Kerman Tejarat Bank, was finally arrested in connection with this case in June 2013.
Who is Emarat Saz?
Ali Akbar Emarat Saz was born on August 24, 1968, in Kerman. After graduating from university, he was employed by Tejarat Bank and rose through the ranks from an entry-level position to executive deputy director.
When Emarat Saz was finally put on trial for his activities in that role, the judiciary established a new process under a new institution, the “Special Court for Investigating the Crimes of Corrupters and Economic Disruptors,” to handle the case. It would take five years before that process led to a verdict in his case.
The Judiciary mouthpiece, Mizan News Agency wrote in a report on his trial on January 24, 2018:
“Abbas Hosseini, the prosecutor’s representative, said in the first session of the trial of Ali Akbar Emarat Saz: ‘In the report to the legal deputy of the Revolutionary Guards dated February 20, 2013, it is stated that CEO of a company has issued six documents of guarantee for 2.95 trillion rials, which turned out to be invalid. The inspector of the Tejarat Bank of Kerman also announced that 52 guarantees have not been registered in the banking system.’
“This means that Emarat Saz has issued a guarantee by ignoring the rules and regulations for issuing bank checks.
“Hosseini added: ‘Also, the accused stated in his confession during the interrogation session that three illegal warranty items have been issued for Mahan Airlines in the amount of 75 billion Tomans.’”
The prosecutor’s representative stated: After handing over a part of Tejarat Bank to the private sector, the accused, as the head of the mentioned branch, was involved in signing 301 checks, of which 204 were in favor of Gharz al-Hasna Resalat Fund, 19 were in favor of Gharz al-Hasna Tawhid Fund, 7 were in favor of Mahan Airlines, and 11 were issued for individuals and legal entities.”
Hosseini raised several important questions:
– Why was the Revolutionary Guards Legal Department engaged in investigating this case?
– What does the issue of corruption of a bank manager in Kerman have to do with the IRGC?
– Why did Emarat Saz issue a surety bond guarantee for Mahan Air?
-What was Mahan Air’s involvement in this case?
The case showed that Mahan Airlines and the IRGC were both trying to exploit huge budgets and revenue sources from domestic banks. Through embezzlement, money laundering, acquisition of people’s property and the creation of cover institutions and banks, Mahan and the IRGC no doubt sought to expand the activities that had brought the airline under US sanctions. It has long been identified as a partner to the IRGC in smuggling operations that also involve a number of militant Iranian proxies in the surrounding region.
Gharz-ul-Hasna, the recipient of the vast majority of the fraudulent checks, is affiliated with Iran’s military and security institutions. Its funds are thus a means of financing their activities, while Tejarat’s conversion of those funds helped to make money laundering easier. This process continued when the Resalat Gharz al-Hasna Fund was itself converted into “Resalat Bank,” leading to an expansion of its activities.
This goes to show that the institutions involved in the Tejarat Bank schemes faced few, if any, consequences. However, Ali Akbar Emarat Saz was finallh sentenced to 25 years in prison on January 3, 2017, after five court hearings.
Do not miss the “Kerman circle”!
What is the story of Mahan Airlines, which was mentioned in the confessions and rulings related to Emarat Saz?
Mahan Airlines is one of the largest economic enterprises of the Kargozaran Sazandegi Party. Mahan Airlines CEO Seyed Hossein Marashi is the cousin of Hashemi Rafsanjani’s wife.
Seyed Hossein Marashi, born on August 28, 1958, in Rafsanjan, Kerman province, is a reformist political activist and spokesman for the Kargozaran Sazandegi Party.
During the presidency of Hashemi Rafsanjani, the governor of Kerman and later the head of Hashemi Rafsanjani’s office, Marashi was Kerman’s representative in the regime’s parliament for two terms. He then went on to found Mahan Airlines.
Mahan Airlines is purportedly a private airline and is headquartered in Kerman. This company was established in 1992 in Kerman and its name is derived from city of Mahan, 35 km from Kerman.
It is an interesting symmetry that can be reached from Tejarat Bank in Kerman to Mahan Airlines from Kerman! But the story is not over yet …
The major shareholder of Mahan Air is the Molla Al-Muwahhidin Charitable Foundation. This institute was established by “Kerman Circle”, ie Marashi and comrades. 100% of the shares of Mahan Airlines and about 50% of the shares of Kerman Khodro belong to Molla Al-Muwahhidin Institute.
Molla Al-Muwahhidin Institute was registered in Kerman in 1987 under the full name of “Mawlawi Al-Muwahhidin Ali Ibn Abitaleb Charity of Kerman Province”. Seyyed Hossein Marashi, the then-governor of Kerman, along with a number of local officials in Kerman province, were the founders of the institute.
Until his death, Qassem Soleimani was a member of the board of trustees of the Molla al-Muwahhidin Institute!
Don’t be surprised! Qassem Soleimani, who was born in Kerman Province, has more connections with Hossein Marashi and Mahan Air than can be believed.
In an interview with Khabar Online on November 16, 2019, Hossein Marashi acknowledged to an interesting point in response to a reporter’s question.
The question: “Why has the performance of Molly Al-Muwahhidin, with all of its holdings and companies, not been reported?
Marashi: “Has the law indicated to whom we should report? Let me say something. We got to a point where I appointed people. I brought Mr. Bahonar as a member of the Board of Trustees. I told him to sign; he would not sign. We asked him to sign. We got the signature of Qassem Soleimani. He was a member of the board of trustees.”
The relationship between Qassem Soleimani and Hossein Marashi, of course, dates back to four decades ago, and the “Kerman Circle” and its longtime comrades have now formed a mafia whose branches have spread throughout the country.
Interestingly, Hossein Marashi, after special services to the IRGC, is now the spokesman for Kargozaran Sazandegi, a supposedly reformist party that has been described as a thorn in the side of the IRGC. This shows that we should not be deceived by claims of a power struggle and internal strife among Iranian elites.
The family, and mafia ties of these corrupt actors, who often have security and military backgrounds, are too complex to be reduced to differences between the two political tribes.
In fact, both factions have shown a great deal of complicity in looting the people’s wealth.
Corruption by Marashi, Emarat Saz and Qassem Soleimani is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the “Kerman Circle”.
On December 15, 2017, the regime’s parliamentary news agency, known as the Khaneh Melat, had a conversation with Marashi, in which he described his relationship with Shahram Jazayeri, well known for his corrupt past:
“Mr. Marashi, it seems that you have a close relationship with Shahram Jazayeri. Is it true?
Marashi: “He used to come and go with me, and I sent one of the managers to investigate his work. When he returned, he told me that this man was talented, but that all his work was paper, and that he had never invested in anything before. He also invested in Kerman, and by the way, the same thing happened to him, and when he was arrested, he was able to respond to the real investments he had made, and he paid his debts from the same investments; the kid is talented, but he’s in a hurry and he was used to hiring people, and that’s wrong.”
It is interesting how Marashi invites everyone to Kerman. It is also interesting that for the sake of investments from the IRGC, he did the necessary groundwork even with the famous Shahram Jazayeri.
The Kargozaran Sazandegi Party, the epicenter of Kerman circle
Among the mafia in Iran, operating as so-called political parties, none is as close to the IRGC as “Kargozaran” and none have as much capital as them. Incidentally, the relationship between the IRGC and the “Kargozaran” has not only organizational but also ethnic and indigenous roots.
The IRGC’s trust in the Kargozaran Party is so great that it has handed over military missions of the IRGC’s Quds Force in Syria and Iraq to Mahan Airlines.
“Jahangiri” and Kerman circle
To understand the “Kerman Circle”, of course, we need to dig deeper.
Vice President Ishaq Jahangiri, the former chairman of the Kargozaran Party’s Central Council, is one of the most influential people in the Kerman circle. He is currently a member of the party’s central council, as well as Rouhani’s first deputy vice president, and is a prominent reformist activist, one of the few people in Kerman who, along with his family, has deep economic ties with the IRGC.
During the period when Ishaq Jahangiri entered the Kerman Jihad Sazandegi, Qassem Soleimani became a member of the Kerman Corps, and a few years later he became the commander of the Quds Force barracks in the same city, and the closeness of these two people began from that time.
Ishaq Jahangiri’s two brothers were members of the Revolutionary Guards who were killed during the Iran-Iraq war. Mohammad Jahangiri was killed in 1980 in the Susangard region and Yaghoub Jahangiri was killed in Badr operation in 1984.
Ishaq Jahangiri said in an interview on the Jamaran website on October 17, 2017: “When I was in charge of the Kerman Jihad, I was responsible for the Jihad war, and I had to constantly go to the front. My mother was worried that I would be martyred after Yaghoub and Muhammad. But my father was more tolerant. My dear brother Haj Qassem Soleimani told me several times that my family was sad enough and that I should no longer take part in the war.”
An inevitable and interesting confession that is the main focus of Kerman’s relations with each other.
Meanwhile, Ishaq Jahangiri has thus recounted the necessity of his survival and profitability for the IRGC.
Ishaq Jahangiri has another brother who is also involved in government corruption and the Kerman Circle.
Mehdi Jahangiri, his younger brother, was the founder of the Tourism Bank. Iran Cultural Heritage and Tourism Investment Company, also known as “Samga”, which is part of the area under the management of Jahangiri, was registered in July 2009 with 20 billion tomans in initial assets.
Mehdi Jahangiri was arrested in connection with his corruption but was released on bail due to the IRGC’s involvement. Rajaniuz website revealed in a report that Mehdi Jahangiri had secured one trillion tomans for his release from prison, the largest bail payment in the history of the Islamic Republic!
Mashreq News security website also reported on March 7, 2017, that “heavy lobbies” were involved in the release of Mehdi Jahangiri!
On January 15, 2017, the Jahan News website published an open letter from former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force. In it, Ahmadinejad actually reveals Soleimani’s involvement in the release of Mehdi Jahangiri and complains that he is not doing anything for his fellow gang members, including the survivors who are in prison!
Despite this clear evidence of corruption appearing in Iranian media, the IRGC later tried to prevent government officials from getting involved in the issue of family members of the Kerman circle.
Jahangiri’s family’s relations with Qassem Soleimani were very warm and close, and he has earned a good source of income through Jahangiri due to his ethnic ties in the IRGC’s “Kerman Circle.”
In March 2017, Soleimani went to Ishaq Jahangiri’s home for Eid and celebrated his family’s efforts, especially those of the children killed while serving in the IRGC.
There are many such examples in mafia-family relations in the clerical system. But “Kerman Circle” has a unique feature.
One side of it is in the IRGC and the terrorist Quds force, and the other side is in the so-called reformist party of Kargozaran, and the other side is in the Rouhani government, and the other side is in the private sector!
It would take a book to map out the connections between these corrupt circles, their ethnic and tribal affairs, the details of their overlapping work, and the crimes they have committed.
This is how it can be said that the “Republic of Sultans” is a huge corrupt gang and mafia that can be found in every corner of this regime!