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US targets Khamenei, his associates in fresh sanctions

The United States on Wednesday imposed fresh Iran-related sanctions as part of its maximum pressure campaign against Tehran.

In a statement, the US Treasury Department said its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned on Wednesday two organizations, along with their leaders and subsidiaries, controlled by the Supreme Leader of Iran, the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO), and Astan Quds Razavi (AQR).

According to the statement, EIKO and AQR control large swaths of the Iranian economy, including assets expropriated from political dissidents and religious minorities, to the benefit of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and senior Iranian government officials while posing as charitable organizations (bonyads).

Alongside the previously designated Bonyad Mostazafan, itself controlled by the Supreme Leader, and the IRGC-owned Khatam al-Anbiya, AQR and EIKO are said to control more than half of the Iranian economy, the statement read.

Commenting on the new measures against the Iranian regime, US Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said: “These institutions enable Iran’s elite to sustain a corrupt system of ownership over large parts of Iran’s economy.”

“The United States will continue to target those who enrich themselves while claiming to help the Iranian people.”

As with EIKO and AQR, Bonyad Mostazafan has been the beneficiary of favorable treatment by Iran’s corrupt leadership, and its assets have been used by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to enrich his office, reward his political allies, and persecute the regime’s perceived enemies, the statement added.

According to the US Treasury Department, bonyads are opaque, quasi-official organizations generally controlled by current and former government officials and clerics that report directly to the Supreme Leader.

These organizations receive benefits from the Iranian government, including tax exemptions, but are not required to have their budgets publicly approved.

This lack of accountability has enabled the bonyads to expand their economic activities far beyond their original remit and has led to the accumulation of vast amounts of wealth without delivering the promised benefit to the people of Iran, according to the US Treasury Department.