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Iran's IRGC Trying Illegally To Take Ownership Of Major Steel Producer

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Radio Farda has obtained a confidential letter that shows Iran’s IRGC, which holds 49 percent of Khuzestan Steel Mill Company, is attempting to "illegally acquire" the remaining shares belonging to workers.

Meanwhile, reports say that the Revolutionary Guard financial holding involved in the case may be transferring its assets to Supreme Leader Khamenei's office.

The steel company is one of the top three steel producers in Iran. The other 51 percent of its shares have been handed over to the public as "Justice Shares," however, it is the IRGC that controls the company's management and operations as the major shareholder.

The steel mill in Khuzestan Province is the biggest producer of steel bars and the second biggest producer of un-milled steel in Iran.

In the June 27 letter Mohammad Qaemi, the liquidation director of Yas Holding Company warned Sadeq Zolqadrnia, the IRGC's deputy commander for economic affairs and reconstruction that "Any illegal intervention by the IRGC or Yas will entail religious and legal consequences."

The main activity of IRGC's Yas holding, operating under the force's Cooperative Foundation is dealership and subcontracting in the housing sector. The holding has been implicated in numerous financial corruption cases during the past three years.

One of the most important one of these cases is the one regarding a 100 billion rial (around $3.2 billion at the time) transaction with the Municipality of Tehran which led to the imprisonment of former deputy mayor Isa Sharifi who worked as a deputy to then Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf who is now the speaker of Iran's parliament.

The Yas Holding was officially dissolved in February 2018. However, based on the document now at the disposal of Radio Farda, the IRGC is still holding its shares in the Steel company and is trying to increase its holding.

In the letter, Qaemei explains that Yas has currently no control over its assets but IRGC officials will be responsible for the consequences of the Steel Company's economic failure.

The statement shows that part of the assets of Yas that must have been at the disposal of its liquidation director has not been put at his disposal. This means that regardless of the apparent dissolution of the holding, IRGC is still continuing to use its assets.

Meanwhile, the letter charges that during the past year, measures taken by Ali Mohammadi, the managing director of the steel company has been "illegal" and has led to "wasting the rights and assets of smaller shareholders."

The letter further states that 51 percent of shares of the company belongs to workers and that the IRGC is considering "illegal action" against them “disguised as charitable activity aimed at uprooting poverty."

Mohammadi is a trusted IRGC official and has been named by the force's commanders as an "exemplary jihadi manager”. The letter states that the board of directors of the steel company has tried to dismiss him several times, but every time the IRGC and its commander in chief objected to the board's decision. Seven days after the letter at Radio Farda's disposal was signed, the IRGC changed the board of directors of the steel company and replaced its board chairman with Esmail Ashouri, an IRGC employee.

Yas Holding is known for its involvement in major financial corruption cases including a 130 trillion rial case revealed by former government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh. In another case, Yas forced the state television IRIB to give it the exclusive rights to control television advertising. However, Yas had to withdraw from that contract after other corrupt dealings were revealed.

The three leading figures in the management of Yas are Jamal Aberumand, a former IRGC Deputy Commander, Massoud Mehrdadi, a deputy to the IRGC Cooperative Foundation and Mahmoud Seif who is known for his role in smuggling weapons and forging bank notes on behalf of the IRGC.

Insiders believe former IRGC Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari may have been removed from his post after corruption cases in Yas Holding were revealed. Unlike other former IRGC Commanders, Khamenei did not appoint him as his military adviser.

There are various reports about the arrest of Seif and Mehrdadi on charges of financial corruption, but the Iranian Judiciary has not confirmed these reports.

Since 2018 there have been reports about reshuffling of managers and transferring them between Yas Holding and the ultra-rich Executive Headquarters that operates under Khamenei's office. However, no details are available about those transfers.

However, the general assumption is that as a result of these developments parts of the assets of Yas will be transferred to the Executive Headquarters and Khamenei's office. This will give further opportunities to the institutions operating under the Supreme Leader of to go ahead with its non-transparent economic activities and further expand its financial empire.
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