It has emerged that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will be one of the main beneficiaries of US sanction relief on Iran. The easing of sanctions on Iran is part of the framework of the nuclear deal reached between Iran and P5+1 world powers in July.
According to a Reuters investigation, the sanctions relief will lift restrictions on ‘Setad Ejraiye Farmane Hazrate Emam’, known as Setad – one of the most secretive and wealthy organisations in the Islamic Republic.
The conglomerate, with estimated assets at around $95 billion in 2013, was sanctioned in order to put personal pressure on Khamenei, who has sole control of the network’s assets.
Having built its empire on systematic seizures of properties owned by religious minorities, business people and Iranian expatriates, Setad has stakes in almost every sector of Iran’s economy and is one of the most powerful organisations in the country.
The nuclear deal reached in July and likely to go ahead after gaining Congressional support, will remove Setad from the US Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list. This will allow Setad to open overseas bank accounts and take financial actions outside Iran without its partners risking US sanctions.
While Setad is not directly linked to Iran’s nuclear programme, it is close to its ruling elite and gives Khamenei extensive access to its resources. Though Khamenei’s net worth may be unchanged, the relief on sanctions will undoubtedly empower Iran’s Supreme Leader.
Republican Senator Cory Gardner of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee criticised the move, saying that the removal of sanctions on Setad “allows the Ayatollah’s shady conglomerate to jeopardise the global financial system”.