Conservative MP for Hendon, Matthew Offord, has voiced his concern about the news that hardliners in the Iranian regime were benefiting from sanctions relief as a result of the P5+1 July nuclear deal.
The comments were made during a discussion in the House of Commons of a motion to take note of a European document relating to restrictive measures against Iran.
Dr Offord drew attention to the fact that one of the main beneficiaries of the sanctions windfall is Ayatollah Khamenei, who controls the Setad conglomerate – one of the most secretive and wealthy organisations in Iran.
The Hendon MP said: “Setad has become one of the most powerful organisations in Iran, although many Iranians, and indeed many in the wider world, know little about it. In the past six years, it has morphed into a business juggernaut that holds stakes in nearly every sector of Iranian industry, including finance, oil, telecommunications, the production of birth-control pills and even ostrich farming”.
He underlined: “The motion seeks to remove secondary sanctions on Setad and about 40 firms it owns or has a stake in, which will have a huge impact on events in the Middle East. The de-listing of Setad has no direct connection to Iran’s nuclear programme, but its significance is in the company’s relationship to Iran’s ruling elite. The company has interests in almost every sector of Iran’s economy”.
Speaking about the conglomerate’s activities, he said: “It built its corporation on the systematic seizure of thousands of properties belonging to religious minorities, business people and Iranians living abroad—we have seen that in the history… It is through Setad that Khamenei has access to resources that allow him to bypass rivals and other branches of government”.
Dr Offord argued that rather than benefiting the Iranian people, the relief would empower Iran’s hardliners and help fund its regional ambitions. He referenced a recent report from The Times that “the Iranian Revolutionary Guard corps, a branch of Iran’s military accused of funneling arms and other support to Hezbollah and President Assad of Syria, has placed top commanders at the heart of more than 200 Iranian companies”, who will benefit from the sanctions relief.
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