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Khamenei-Run Foundation Will Receive Windfall From Nuclear Deal

A foundation run by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stands to be a major beneficiary of lifted sanctions as part of the nuclear deal with Iran, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Khamenei has yet to publicly back the accord, which lifts some sanctions on Iran in return for limits on its nuclear program. But he does stand to benefit, thanks to his close control of one of the most powerful and secretive organizations in Iran — “Setad Ejraiye Farmane Hazrate Emam,” or Setad.

The deal, which is likely to go into effect after clearing a major Congressional hurdle last week, lifts U.S. secondary sanctions on Setad and about 40 firms it owns or has a stake in, according to a Reuters tally based on annexes to the deal. …

With stakes in nearly every sector of Iran’s economy, Setad built its empire on the systematic seizure of thousands of properties belonging to religious minorities, business people, and Iranians living abroad, according to a 2013 Reuters investigation, which estimated the network’s holdings at about $95 billion.

The deal “allows the Ayatollah’s shady conglomerate to jeopardize the global financial system,” Sen. Cory Gardner (R – Colo.) told Reuters. “These are bad actors who are now receiving the benefit of the bargain from the United States.”

Reuters said that Khamenei maintains “exclusive control” over Setad and its subsidiary organizations. Ghadir Investment Company, which the U.S. Treasury identified as a Setad-linked firm, signed a $565 million deal last month with the Italian defense giant Finmeccanica.

The Reuters report is consistent with an analysis done in May by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies showing that Khamenei would personally stand to benefit from the lifting of sanctions on his foundations. The study noted that Iran’s elite extraterritorial militia, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), also stood to accrue significant benefits from the lifting of sanctions. Reuters also reported that month that the IRGC would be a major economic beneficiary of sanctions relief.

A corruption scandal last year involving the use of medical funds to purchase luxury cars for government officials has raised questions over whether sanctions relief will benefit ordinary Iranians, rather than just the well-connected.

Groups associated with the National Iranian American Council, which have been lobbying to support the nuclear deal with Iran, also stand to benefit from the deal.

[Photo: Alan / Flickr ]