Friday, January 1, 2010

Makhmalbaf: Secrets of Khamenei's life - part 3 - His wealth

This is part 3 of a 4-part series.
For part 1 - His interests, please click here.
For part 2 - His entourage and Household operations, please click here.

Mohsen Makhmalbaf, internationally renowned filmmaker and the Iranian opposition's main spokesman abroad since the disputed presidential election, posted an article, entitled 'The secrets of Khamenei's life,' on his web site on Monday, December 28, 2009. Makhmalbaf has been living in exile in Paris. The original article in Farsi can be read here.

The following is a translation of the third part of the article. My notes are in italics.

Note: The term 'beyteh rahbari' has been translated as the Leader's Household in the broadest sense, which includes Ali Khamenei's personal office and inner circle.

The Secrets of Khamenei's Life - Part 3

Mohsen Makhmalbaf

I compiled this text which is based on information relayed to me by former staff members of the Leader's Household and the Intelligence Ministry who have escaped abroad.

Khamenei's residences
[Islamic Republic founder Ruhollah] Khomeini's residence in Jamaran (NB Neighborhood in northern Tehran) was 200 square meters. Khamenei's main residence on Pasteur Street measures 1,200 square meters. (This 1,200-square-meter residence is the only one that everyone knows about).

Khomeini only lived in a small house in Ghom and the Jamaran prayer complex, but Khamenei uses all of the Shah's palaces (NB Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, deposed in the Islamic Revolution of 1979) which have not been turned into museums, and has even added to them.

Nevertheless, Iranian children still read in their schoolbooks that the Shah's teaspoons were made of gold and that the revolution took place because of his aristocratic manners.

A 5,000-square-meter anti-nuclear protective bunker has been built under Khamenei's Pasteur Street residence, at a depth of 60 meters. The elevator alone cost $5 million. A protective bunker has also been built under the Vakil Abad Palace in Mashhad. But these bunkers cannot prevent a revolution. If a revolution occurs in Iran, Khamenei will escape to Syria, otherwise to Russia.

Khamenei's logistics: The following means are exclusively at the disposal of the Leader's Household:
One Airbus airplane, for his personal travels
Two Boeing 707s, one for the family's travels, the other for bodyguards
Five Falcons, two for his own travels, one for Mojtaba (NB His influential second son), two for the rest of the family
Five helicopters, two for Khamenei's travels, one for Mojtaba, two for the rest of the family
Although helicopters are banned over Tehran, the sound of helicopters can often be heard in northern Tehran.
Six helicopter pads. In Tehran: Mehrabad, Abbas Abad, next to Esteghlal Hotel, Manzariyeh, and one each in Ghom and Lavasan.
17 bullet-proof vehicles, each one at a cost of $400,000
1,200 other vehicles

Those who run the Leader's Household
[The late Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali] Montazeri was initially supposed to succeed Khomeini. His denunciation of the mass executions of political prisoners (NB In the late 1980s) gained him Khomeini's disfavor and he was not only dismissed, but also placed under house arrest. Of course, some clerics also played a role in overthrowing Montazeri (NB as deputy leader and heir-apparent) and replacing him with Khamenei.

When Khomeini was dying, some wanted his son Ahmad to replace him. Ahmad did not seek such a role. Khomeini would say, 'Make whoever you want Leader after me, but do not do me the disservice of naming Ahmad Leader. Don't let the people say that Khomeini's son inherited [his position] just like in a monarchy.' Some people wanted to seize the opportunity to sideline Montazeri from power and replace him with Khamenei. Among these people were Reyshahri (NB Former Intelligence Minister, described in greater detail in part 2), Mohammadi Golpayegani, Hejazi (NB Asghar Hejazi, chief of staff), and Taeb (NB Probably Hojjatoleslam Hossein Taeb, described in greater detail in part 2), who at that time was the interrogator of Mehdi Hashemi (NB Brother of Montazeri's son-in-law. Mehdi Hashemi was executed by the regime in 1987 after a complex frame-up. Most observers believe Hashemi was executed because he opposed and divulged regime contacts with the US administration which were part of the Iran-Contra scandal.) Upon Khomeini's death and Khamenei's accession to the Leadership, all of these individuals became the key figures of Khamenei's office. These individuals opposed the proposal to create a leadership council after Khomeini's death, a council that was to have included ayatollahs Golpayegani, Ardebili, and Khamenei.

The main people who run the Leader's Household are Khamenei himself, his son Mojtaba, and then Hejazi, Mohammadi Golpayegani, and Vahid (NB Golpayegani's executive deputy). The first tier of the Household's staff number 500 individuals, the second tier 2,000, and the third tier 10,000. In reality, it is not the government, Majlis, or judiciary which run the country, but rather it is the Leader's Household that controls everything. The Leader's Household has numerous buildings across Iran.

Khamenei's view of the Basij
Khamenei was the head of the Islamic Republic Party (NB Created 1979, disbanded 1987). He believes that the Basij can be his party, a party which is also an army. Critics who speak of a 'barracks party' are referring to this issue. [Khamenei] has built himself a military party with the government and people's money.

Khamenei's main businesses
Sugar and rice imports, BMW automobiles, production of sugar cubes and sugar under the name of the Imam Reza Shrine authorities (NB An immensely wealthy conglomerate based in Mashhad, involved in businesses from pizza parlors to the rug trade. Resembles the so-called 'bonyads' or foundations in its seemingly religious facade behind which large portions of the Iranian economy are controlled.), investments in Dubai, Germany, Iraq, South Africa, Venezuela, Lebanon, and China.


In order to control his various businesses, Khamenei maintains the same people in key positions for very long periods. For example, Majid Hedayatzadeh who was in charge of selling Iran's oil for 30 years (Hedayatzadeh was replaced last year after Nourizadeh revealed his identity) (NB Majid Hedayatzadeh Razavi ran the Naft Iran Inter-Trade Company, better known as NICO, which is based in Lausanne, Switzerland. NICO is the only body other than the international division of the Iranian national company that can sell Iranian oil. Hedayatzadeh was injured in the bomb explosion at the Islamic Republic Party HQ in 1981. He was replaced last year by Mohammad Javad Asemipour.) Another individual is Mr. Souri (NB Mohammad Souri), who has been in charge of transporting Iranian oil for the past 30 years. Khamenei named these two individuals to their posts in 1982. [Former President] Hashemi Rafsanjani, [former President Mohammad] Khatami, and even [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad wanted to replace them, but were overruled by Khamenei. These two worked with the Leader's Household in the following manner: Hedayatzadeh would sell the barrels of oil, Souri would have the oil transported, and the commission would be transferred to Khamenei's bank account. In the past 30 years, Iran has sold about $700 billion worth of oil and the commissions from the sales and transport have been paid into Khamenei's account through these two individuals. The third person whom Khamenei brought into the Oil Ministry was his own brother, Hassan Khamenei, who was initially a member of the censorship team at the Islamic Guidance Ministry, but was brought to the Oil Ministry to keep an eye on Khamenei's profits.

Khamenei's palaces
The following pictures obtained through Google show Khamenei's palaces (NB Makhmalbaf's web site does not provide photos of all the palaces. Where possible, I've also used Google Maps in addition to the photos provided by Makhmalbaf in order to allow readers to zoom in and out).
1. The palaces at Lavasanat which are used by Khamenei, Mojtaba, and Mohammadi Golpayegani (NB Photo not provided by Makhmalbaf. The following is a satellite image of the village of Lavasanat, which is just to the east of Latyan Dam mentioned below. I cannot situate the palace.)

View Lavasanat in a larger map

2. Jamshidiyeh Palace, former palace of Ardeshir Zahedi (NB Former Iranian ambassador to the United States in the time of the Shah. Makhmalbaf does not provide a photo. The following is a satellite image of Jamshidieh Park. I cannot situate Jamshidieh Palace.) (where Khamenei goes mountain hiking)

View Jamshidieh in a larger map

3. Feish Ghola Palace, next to the Caspian Sea. (NB Makhmalbaf does not provide a photo)

4. The palaces of Malek Abad in Mashhad with 300,000 square meters of grounds.

View Malek Abad - Mashhad in a larger map

5. Niavaran Palace (NB Khamenei's palace is situated to the east of the Niavaran Palace Complex and Museum, the former residence of the late Mohammad Reza Shah.)

View Khamenei's Niavaran Palace in a larger map

6. The palaces of Latyan Dam, which belonged to the Shah

View Latyan Dam Palace in a larger map

Khamenei's wealth
Khamenei became president in 1981.

In 1982, he put Hedayat (NB Hedayatzadeh, mentioned above) and Souri in charge of selling oil and they were not replaced until 2006.

In 1983, he put Mohsen Rafighdoust in charge of purchasing arms (NB Former Minister of the IRGC in the 1980s and a former head of the Foudation of the Oppressed or Bonyadeh Mostazafan. According to his own accounts, available at the Islamic Revolution Document Center, he assassinated a man in the streets with a bludgeon on June 5, 1963.).

In 1991, he became aware of the value of land and through the Enforcement Staff of the Imam's Decree and the Foundation of the Oppressed (NB Setadeh Ejraie Farmaneh Imam and Bonyadeh Mostazafan respectively are another two examples of official bodies which operate vast business empires. The Mostazafan Foundation is particularly involved in military companies and procurement, and is considered one of the largest commercial entities in Iran. For a look at the long list of companies which the foundation is willing to admit that it controls click here.) he started making a land grab.

From 1984, [his brother] Hassan Khamenei oversaw Hedayat and Souri at the Oil Ministry.

In the Defense Ministry, Mohammadi Golpayegani oversaw Rafighdoust and Heydari.

Mr. Lolachian was put in charge of business connected to land and he subsequently became related to Khamenei. (NB Bazaar merchant Lolachian's daughter is married to Khamenei's son Meysam).

From 1997, he allowed his children to engage in business.

In 2005, he stopped his personal business activities and began getting money directly from the government, the same funds which get lost in the country's budget. During the election, [Etemad Melli Party chief Mehdi] Karroubi asked Ahmadinejad what happened to a certain $1 billion?

The total wealth of Khamenei and his family: $36 billion.

Khamenei's personal wealth: $30 billion.

His family's wealth: $6 billion.

$22 billion of the $36 billion were kept in Iran in the form of currency. During the post-election unrest, it was decided to move a major portion of this money to Syria by way of Turkey. The shipment was exposed and confiscated in Turkey. Khamenei was worried that the money would be blocked in Iran if the regime were to collapse. The Iranian government is striving to retrieve this money from the Turkish government. There is no doubt that this money was confiscated in Turkey. The question is why this money was not transported to Syria by air. Perhaps it was feared that the airplane and its cargo would be identified and destroyed.

The rest of the cash: $3.5 billion, of which $1.5 billion is in diamonds, $1 billion is in gold, and the rest is in dollars.

$10 billion of the $36 billion are in bank accounts:
$1 billion in Russia

$1 billion in Syria
$1 billion in China
$1 billion in Venezuela
$2 billion in South Africa
$2 billion in London
$2 billion in other countries.

Apart from the $22 billion in cash and $10 billion in bank accounts, the rest of the assets are in the form of land and stocks:
$2 billion in stocks in world markets
$1 billion in South Africa
$500 million in Syria
$500 million in Venezuela

Where have Khamenei's $30 billion come from?
$12 billion from commissions on oil sales
$2 billion from land
$6 billion from the arms business
$10 billion from Ahmadinejad in the past 4 years

Khamenei's religious businesses
Khamenei shares and controles all the income and investments of the Imam Reza Shrine authorities in Mashhad, the Massoumeh Shrine authorities in Ghom, the Shahreh Rey Shrine authorities in southern Tehran. Tabasi (NB Ayatollah Abbas Vaez Tabasi, headof the Imam Reza Shrine authorities) and Reyshahri (NB Describes in greater detail in previous parts of this report) are his partners in Mashhad and Shahreh Rey respectively.

This is part 3 of a series.
For part 1 - His interests, please click here.
For part 2 - His entourage and Household operations, please click here.

(Soon: Part 4 - The financial and political activities of his family)

Regime's 'million man march' in Kermanshah - Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The regime rallied its supporters across the country on Wednesday. The following footage is from the gathering in Kermanshah. Kermanshah has a population of over 700,000 and is situated about 500 km west of Tehran.

View Kermanshah, Iran in a larger map

The cleric in the footage gives a speech denouncing the opposition's protests on Ashura, December 27. Just before the end of the video, a man accompanying a female photographer with impressive equipment asks the videographer who he is:

For footage of the regime's 'million man march' in Karaj on Thursday, please click here.