By Jubin Katiraie
Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani claimed that the Iranian people’s bad livelihood situation is because of U.S. and global sanctions. On 12 September Rouhani cried out that world powers are not allowing them to buy medicine with their own money and tried to connect all the country’s problems to the sanctions.
His remarks were by and largely untrue since U.S. officials have on many occasions announced that there are no sanctions imposed on the import and purchase of medicine, food, medical equipment, and facilities and of course agriculture products, but Iranian officials struggle to show something else.
To contour a real picture, we will show here some of the examples of these thefts and embezzlements.
In April 2020, it was revealed that $4.8 billion of government currency had been lost. (State-run Mashregh website, 15 April)
Aftab-e-Yazd daily wrote that $18 billion was wasted last year. This Rouhani-affiliated daily wrote that the currency was given to those who did not import goods at all, and if they did, they sold them in the open market, considering the price of the dollar in the open market. (Aftab Yazd, 11 November 2019)
Abdolnaser Hemmati, the governor of the Central Bank, admitted that in the last two years, $27 billion in foreign exchange has been given to exporters and in return, no good and currency has entered the country. According to him, these people must be held accountable. (Tabnak website, 14 July 2020)
Regarding the $27 billion figure mentioned by Hemmati, Hariri, the head of trade between Iran and China, explained that small businesses export $8-9 billion annually and that 50 percent of non-oil exports are gas and petrochemical condensates, which are in the hands of state-owned companies. (Kayhan, 20 July)
The family of Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, former Minister of Industry, has embezzled €6.6 billion from petrochemicals. (Khabar online website, 21 July)
Iranian Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri, Rouhani’s chief deputy, acknowledged that $22 billion in foreign exchange was taken to Dubai and Istanbul to reduce the price of the currency, but the fate of the money is unclear. (Aftab website, 23 October 2019)
According to Karimi Qodusi, a member of Iran’s parliament, more than $36 billion was given to smuggling bands of goods, currency, and drugs by the order of Rouhani. (Mehr news agency, 4 October 2020)
Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, said that we had to give $35 billion to those which are not clear how they squandered the money and where they took it. (Shargh daily, 2 May 2020)
In 2018, the ILNA news agency reported that $30 billion had been lost in the banking network in the past 10 months. (ILNA, 29 November 2018)
In an unprecedented move, who has decided to allocate $20 billion of the country’s foreign exchange resources to various groups, some of which even do not exist, the state-run news agency IRNA wrote on 2 August 2018.
Yousefian Mollah, a former member of parliament, said it was unclear what had happened to the $9 billion and where it had gone. (Bahar website, 15 April 2020)
Saeed Leylaz, a government economist, also said that the unaccounted distribution of the 4,200 tomans currency, by wasting currency and gold resources, led to the loss of $30 billion and 80 tons of gold. (90 Eghtesadi website, 26 August 2020)
If we consider gold at the current price of $1945 an ounce, this amount of gold is equal to $5.5 billion, and in fact, it is $35.5 billion in sum, which the state has squandered in this way.
Leaving aside embezzlement by officials’ children, Omid Assadbaygi the managing director of the Haft Tapeh sugarcane factory, embezzled 2.5 trillion tomans, and Abas Irvani, economically active in the automotive industry and its affiliated group named Ozam, embezzled nearly 764 million tomans.
Ali Abedzadeh, the former head of the airline, bought the King Air 2000 for $2.5 million, but invoiced $11 million and stole $8.5 million for the aircrafts.
Theft and embezzlement are taking place in a way that it is very difficult to calculate the numbers. The figures revealed by the media or admitted by both members of the factions have something in common. The common denominator is that the leaders of the government and their affiliates are looting every moment.
From the above figures, it can be concluded that at least $50-60 billion has been looted in the last two or three years. With this amount, each Iranian receives at least 20 million Tomans, with the same amount of money, the meat consumed for seven years in Iran can be provided. With this money, 18 years of wheat consumption in Iran can be provided and two million sustainable jobs can be created by international standards.
With this money, more than two million standard hospital beds, five million standard classrooms can be built, and this money is equivalent to the national budget with a population of 30 to 40 million people.