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Akbar Tabari’s case sheds light on Khamenei’s corruption

Akbar Tabari
Akbar Tabari

Analysis by PMOI/MEK

Iran, June 19, 2020—A look at Iran’s society provides two very contrasting images. The more prominent image, the one that is being reflected in the lives of millions of Iranians, is one of poverty and misery, which manifests itself in daily protests of unpaid workers, the heartbreaking situation of child labor, illiteracy, grave-dwellers, a vast market of people selling their vital body organs to make ends meet. If you turn the page, you’ll see a totally different picture, a class of ruling elite and their pampered children, living a life of luxury earned through the looting of national wealth and the meager earnings of poorer classes.

Systematic and institutional corruption is an image of the millions of Iranians who fell victim to the looting of the clerical regime. On August 18, 2019, the state-run ISNA news agency quoted Ahmad Tavakoli, a member of the Expediency Discernment Council who said, “If no measures are taken, several million of people will be added to the city outskirts." These outskirts are areas that are bereft of any proper infrastructure and services and are inhabited by impoverished people who struggle to fulfill their most basic needs

The question is, Iran being a rich country sitting on a sea of oil and vast natural resources, what happened to all its wealth?

This is a question that is regularly coming to light these days as Akbar Tabari, the Executive Deputy of former judiciary chief Sadegh Amoli Larijani, and his cohorts stand trial for corruption and obstruction of justice.

Government corruption is the worst-kept secret in the Iranian regime. A recurring theme in social protests across Iran is embezzlement and corruption at the highest echelons of power in the regime. “One less government corruption case, and our problems will be solved,” people frequently chant in the streets.

A member of the Majlis (Regime’s parliament) Jalil Mirmohammadi said on June 14: “There is an uncontrolled high cost of basic housing goods or rent, how can our people tolerate this pressure?” The cost of housing, one of the many sectors that has seen price hikes in recent months, is taking its toll on millions of people, for home basic shelter is becoming a longed-for commodity. In their quarrels and disputes, rivaling regime officials often acknowledge that fluctuations in the price of housing and basic goods is the result of manipulations to markets made by brokers who are linked to the regime.

In a recent article, the state-run Hamiayan-e Velayat (Supporters of the Supreme Leader) website wrote that Iran's total oil revenue in the 2019-2020 Persian calendar year was $8 billion while the corruption charges against the sixth defendant in the Tabari case is $7.5 billion. The person in question, Jalil Sobhani, is the chief executive of one of Iran’s largest petrochemical companies.

If we divide only this one figure of theft among all people, each family will receive about $400. To understand the scale of the theft, each Iranian worker earns around $150 per month. When the sixth defendant of one case has stolen this much, what can be expected from the first defendant.

Abdolali Rahimi Mozafari, another MP, said during the June 14 Majlis session, “We are hearing the sound of the broken bones of the deprived classes of the society under heavy economic pressure… Why is the government trying to achieve economic progress by putting its hand in the pocket of the people?”

The question is, who is the first-degree defendant and responsible for poverty and high expenses? While Tabari is standing trial, he is but a pawn of higher authorities who are the bigger benefactors of rampant corruption that is plaguing the entire governing system of Iran. At the very top sits Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, who oversees a vast economic empire that is estimated to be valued at around $200 billion. With this wealth, he could have helped Iran flourish, instead of sinking into poverty and misery. With this wealth, he could have helped contain the coronavirus outbreak by imposing quarantines and supporting the people’s livelihoods through the lockdown.

But he has chosen to invest his ill-gotten wealth on terrorism, the spread of fundamentalism, and the bolstering of a notorious repressive apparatus that is meant to keep him on his throne.

Background

Akbar Tabari was an influential figure and the executive deputy of former chief of judiciary Sadegh Larijani from 2009 to 2019. According to the prosecutor, Tabari has been involved in many criminal activities and corruption cases for over 20 years. He was arrested on July 16, 2019. Tabari is accused of leading a network to receive bribes for influencing legal cases and judicial procedures.

Larijani's tenure as the head of the Judiciary and Chief-Justice abruptly ended after the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei replaced him with another cleric, Ebrahim Raisi, on March 7, 2019.

Following the arrest of Larijani’s deputy Akbar Tabari, and the pattern of arresting members of former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s close circle, Sadeq Larijani, who currently also chairs the Expediency Discernment Council, wrote a letter to Khamenei threatening to resign and retreat to Najaf, Iraq, which is a Shiite stronghold.

Raisi aims to remove Larijani from the political scene as a potential competitor to succeed Khamenei.

Ebrahim Raisi was a member of the Death Committee in the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988 and the current caretaker of Astan-e Quds. A foundation that overlooks over billions of dollars’ worth of company equities, lands, real estate and more. The Iranian regime uses the revenue it earns from the Astan Quds, all paid out of the pockets of the Iranian people, to fuel its terrorist activities in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon… and to fund the IRGC’s operations to suppress the protests of the Iranian people.