IRGC Spokesman Denies Soleimani Had Role In Massive Corruption

Commenting on corruption involving the Revolutionary Guards and Tehran Municipality, the IRGC spokesman denied Ghasem Soleimani had any role in the dealings.

Commenting on corruption involving the Revolutionary Guards and Tehran Municipality, the IRGC spokesman denied Ghasem Soleimani had any role in the dealings.

Ramazan Sharif was commenting on a story and a 50-minute recording published by the United States-funded Radio Farda based on an audio recording of a conversation in 2018 between former Guards (IRGC) commander Mohammad-Ali Jafari and his Economic Affairs Deputy Sadegh Zolghadr.

Sharif said that the case cited in the recording had been dealt with, presumably referring to the judiciary announcing last year that four defendants had been sentenced to two to 30 years in prison over embezzlement in the case. Human-rights campaigner Emadeddin Baghi has pointed out that the tape had been published on a Telegram channel two years ago. At the time it went unnoticed by media and then the channel closed down and the recording disappeared.

In the audio file, Jafari tells Zolghadr that Soleimani, who was killed by a United States drone attack in Baghdad in 2020, knew about 80,000 billion rials (around $3 billion at the time) held by Tehran municipality and Yas Holding, a firm controlled by the IRGC’s Cooperatives Foundation, and had also been aware of corruption allegations before any public indictment and trials.The tape even reveals that Soleimani was upset about the action taken by Jafari and Zolghadr against those who had embezzled the money and spoke to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei about it.

The funds had been due to reach the Qods (Quds) Force, the IRGC extraterritorial arm, which Soleimani commanded. In the recording, Zolghadr says that Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, had ordered 90 percent of the money, earned by Yas Holding, to be used to finance the Qods Force with the remainder going to the IRGC for general needs.

In a note Monday, Hossein Shariatmadari, chief editor of the flagship hardliner Kayhan daily, defended Soleimani and others – including Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and the head of IRGC intelligence Hossein Taeb – mentioned in the recording. Most other hardliner media such as the IRGC-linked Javan newspaper are still completely silent about the highly controversial contents of the audio recording but in a note Monday

‘Cleverly lured’

“It was said that the Qods Force was supposed to have a share of the revenues of the said firm,” he noted. “What is wrong or dirty about this?” He claimed the IRGC and judiciary had shown their integrity by prosecuting corrupt individuals.

Shariatmadari also defended Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Tehran mayor at the time, saying he had “cleverly lured” his ex-deputy, Isa Sharif, back to Iran from Canada so he could be prosecuted.

Mahmoud Abbaszadeh Meshkini, spokesman for parliament’s national security committee, Saturday detected “psychological war” in Radio Farda’s publication of the recording. “The ill-wishers have failed to achieve what they sought and use as an excuse to tarnish the IRGC’s image.”

But critics of the Islamic Republic, and specially the economic and political power held by the IRGC were quick to show the recording as proof of deep corruption, that Soleimani and other senior figures were aware of.

The problem for the regime is that in its infinite lack of transparency, once such a scandal reveals itself, all officials involved fall under suspicion. There is no proof in the recording that Soleimani personally benefitted from the corruption, but critics have a right to question everyone’s role, since there is no free media in the country or independent courts to investigate the matter.

Former reformist interior minister Mostafa Tajzadeh tweeted Saturday that the case showed a conflict of interest within the military and political establishment. “Can you see the outcome of putting weapons, intelligence, money, and media [in the same hands]?” he wrote. “Is this anything other than the military’s control over diplomacy and economy? Is there anyone to hold to account? Is there anyone who dares to prosecute?”

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