A report published by The Times on Wednesday reveals that hardline Iranian militia, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), will receive a surge of funding from Britain and the West after taking control of hundreds of companies that do not appear on sanctions lists.
The IRGC, a branch of Iran’s military accused of funnelling arms and other support to Hezbollah and Syria’s President al-Assad, has placed top commanders at the heart of more than 200 Iranian companies, according to an analysis seen by The Times.
CFI Parliamentary Chairman, Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles MP, commented on the report, stating that “the IRGC is the military force behind so much instability and terrorism across the world and stands to benefit most from the easing of sanctions”.
Sir Eric asserted: “This financial windfall will strengthen the IRGC’s economic empire and repressive grip over Iran, bolster its influence on Iran’s nuclear programme, and bankroll further terror attacks. The organisation’s main purpose is to ensure the survival of the fundamentalist regime of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. It works against peace to be strengthening this malign organisation”.
Western sanctions against Iran are expected to be lifted in March. In exchange for nuclear co-operation, the country will regain access to the international banking system and up to $150 billion in frozen assets.
Western leaders have argued that the IRGC will not gain significantly because sanctions against the militia itself and its commanders will remain. However, according to US think tank Foundation for Defence of Democracies, at least 229 Iranian companies that have never been on an EU or US blacklist have IRGC board members or shareholders, and they will find it easier to trade with the West.
Tom Keatinge, Director of the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies, said: “It’s inevitable that Revolutionary Guard individuals or organisations will benefit from the opening up of business with the international community, and that UK companies may provide some of that financial benefit”.
The Times report cites that an FDD analysis of the IRGC’s commercial interests reveals that 14 companies on the country’s stock exchange, with a combined value of more than $17 billion (£10.8 billion), have shareholders connected to or controlled by the group. Twelve have never been subject to sanctions. These include TCI and the Bahman Group, a vehicle maker.
According to the FDD, a further 217 non-public companies have former or present IRGC commanders in senior positions. These include Masoud Mehrdadi, a former brigadier-general, who is a director of at least seven IRGC-controlled companies, and Asghar Sabouri, said to be the deputy commander of IRGC’s ground force, who is on the board of at least four companies.
Click here to read the full report by The Times.