NCRI - On the eve of the clerical regime's sham elections, government factions in Iran have intensified the scope and depth of their power struggle to grasp presidency, disregarding social tragedies as grave sleepers, poverty, addiction and unemployment that have frustrated and fed up the populace. There is not a single day when the regime officials do not expose the other faction's stories of plundering, corruption and betrayals. In the meantime, the unraveling of the story of Babak Zanjani's getting away with $3 billion which implicated virtually all the regime's top officials in this unprecedented embezzlement has turned into a quagmire that is devouring this crumbling regime.

Babak Zanjani has plundered a stunning amount of the nation’s assets through his coordination and connections with both factions of the regime including Ali-Akbar Rafsanjani, Mohammad Khatami, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Hassan Rouhani, as well as the regime’s suppressive entities, particularly the IRGC. This is why he received the Top Job Creator Award from Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami.

Babak Zanjani is a flunky of Khamenei’s office and the IRGC who played a key role in selling millions of oil barrels, laundering of billions of dollars of the country's revenues and circumventing sanctions by the US, EU and the UN Security Council during Ahmadinejad’s presidency to save the regime's bankrupt economy.

Although Babak Zanjani earned his incredible wealth under Khamenei, the scandal's going public compelled Khamenei to order a show trial for Babak Zanjani, seizing his personal bank accounts and affiliated companies in the first step. The next step would be to execute Babak Zanjani to prevent further revelation of his case his ties to Khamenei, his office and the IRGC in his astronomical embezzlements.

On March 6, 2016, the Iranian regime's Judiciary found Babak Zanjani guilty of corruption on charges of "money laundering", "forgery of documents and bank statements" and "forging bills of exchange" based on a 227-page indictment, and sentenced him to death.

Rafsanjani-Rouhani faction is against this procedure. So, to neutralize Khamenei’s plan, they have demanded the details of the $3-billion state theft. They further want the support of Khamenei-backed entities and the Judiciary for Babak Zanjani to be revealed in public.

In the meantime, activating this issue would help cover-up the embezzlements by the Executive Branch's ministers and authorities.

In an attack on Khamenei and the Judiciary, Rouhani said, “In the case of Babak Zanjani and his colleagues, some $2.7 billion was embezzled which adds up to nearly $3.5 billion with its interest. One wonders how this massive amount of money was given to an individual and where the money is now?” (Rouhani's official website, January 3, 2017)

He had previously said, “With so many monitoring systems in the country… how is it possible that a massive $3-billion fraud happen in the previous government… How can one person steal $3 billion on his own? What were his connections? Who helped him? Who were the partners? What were their ranks? How were both oil and property placed in the hands of one man? How was hundreds of millions of dollars, besides oil, placed at his disposal? Where is the money that was given to this gentleman? Who contributed to him, in the beginning of this case? I suggested that this man be turned in to the Ministry of Intelligence so that the information on this case would be thoroughly clarified and refined, then it could be turned in to the Judiciary. For whatever reason, however, this idea was not realized." (The state-run TV News Network, December 28, 2016)

In response to these attacks, Kadkhodaie, a spokesman for the Khamenei-backed Guardians Council implicitly threatened to disqualify Rouhani for the presidential elections. He reiterated that in every round of presidential elections, the incumbent president is thoroughly and carefully examined and there is no guarantee that any president is qualified for a second round. (The state-run daily Entekhab, January 4, 2017)

Mullah Sadeq Larijani, Khamenei’s Judiciary Chief, also zoomed in on the relationships between Hassan Rouhani and other government officials with Babak Zanjani. He threatened to arrest and prosecute them in order to stifle their voice. He said, "Babak Zanjani has said that he has contributed billions of dollars to the election ca mpaign of the President (Rouhani); to preserve people's dignity and avoid creating discord, we did not pursue many people. You say that we should look behind the curtains; we have no problems; we will summon everyone that he has mentioned and arrest them if necessary, to clarify the issue. We are also looking forward to see where the money of the Presidential Office is spent."

Sadeq Larijani went on to focus on Rouhani government officials' failure to cooperate with the Judiciary and said: “The more important issue is that the money was given to him (Babak Zanjani), in the form of foreign currencies through the Central Bank and foreign banks. With the presence of the representatives of the Judiciary, the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Intelligence, and the IRGC Intelligence, three trips were made to Malaysia, Tajikistan and Turkey to follow up this story. The traces of the money given (to Babak Zanjani) are easily at the disposal of the Central Bank and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The government must be accountable. We have complaints... You must find out where and to which country did Nikou Company (which is affiliated with the National Oil Company) send these foreign currencies?.. It has been three years that we have been telling these to the government but they do not listen." (The state-run Pars News affiliated with the IRGC – January 2, 2017).

Meanwhile, Larijani acknowledged the cover ups in this case and said: "I can’t open up what these obstacles were. There are obstacles and issues within ministries and security apparatuses that will be explained in its due course. In 2013 and 2014, more than 30-40 joint meetings were held between the Prosecutor, the Deputy Minister of Intelligence, the IRGC Intelligence, and the Central Bank, and the data obtained from these investigations were continuously studied and monitored … in due course, the spokesman of the judiciary will announce the findings."

Mullah Eje’ii, the Judiciary spokesman and first deputy minister, attacked Rouhani’s faction by saying, “How much money is needed for the election campaign of one person? Certainly more than 20 billion. Well, tell us where did this money come from?” He added, “During the past few days, some individuals have been arrested who had debts of 600 billion and 1000 billion and unfortunately I cannot name them… Why don’t you clarify these? Why don’t you clearly announce the government's debts to the Central Bank and the banks' debts to the government?”

Mullah Nasser Moussavi Largani, a Member of Parliament from Khamenei’s faction, said: “If Rouhani is after clarity, why doesn’t he clarify all the issues about his brother Hossein Fereidoun? If Babak Zanjani is a criminal, and the previous government had encouraged him, why has Rouhani given him an appreciation award? Why has Rafsanjani, who is a staunch enemy of the previous government and Ahmadinejad, had a meeting with Babak Zanjani?” (The state-run Fars News Agency – January 6, 2017)

Rafsanjani, the president of the Expediency Council, assailed Khamenei and his faction and described them as hatemongerers because of their attacks on Rouhani. Referring to a portion of the theft carried out at the highest levels of the clerical regime, he said, “One wonders how they wasted $700-800billions of oil revenues.” (The state-run Entekhab daily – January 4, 2017)

Babak Zanjani, who calls himself a “soldier of Velayat” and a “Bassiji in the economic front”, was able to quickly go up the ladder of usurping the public's wealth by relying on his connections to the regime leaders and suppressive organs and became one of the country's major investors. He invested tens of billions of dollars of plundered national assets in 70 companies and organizations including several banks, airlines, passenger terminals, sports clubs, and in various countries including Malaysia, the UAE, and Tajikistan. Babak Zanjani boasts of having saved 17.5 billion Euros of Iranian oil revenue through more than 9000 deals and financial transactions as part of his services to the regime. The US Treasury department has blacklisted Babak Zanjani for the said deals. (The state-run ISNA news agency – August 31, 2013). In Turkey, he is also accused of cooperation with Reza Zarrab, who was arrested for bribery and smuggling foreign currency and gold.

In another effort, he purchased 138 state-owned factories from the Social Security during the transfer of Iran's sanctioned oil revenue. In this deal dated December 17, 2012, it was agreed that up to 4 billion Euros of the stocks of the Social Security organization be handed over exclusively to Babak Zanjani’s company which included the Islamic Republic Airlines, Khuzistan Steel Factory, Isfahan's Mobarakeh Steel Factory, Homa hotels, Ghadir Petrochemical Company, Tabriz Petrochemical Company, NITC, the Islamic Republic of Iran's shipping, as well as the Pasargad, TAT, Parsian banks, etc.

While 30% of the Iranian people sleep with empty stomachs and scores of homeless poor are forced to sleep in the graves, Babak Zanjani wears a $30,000 watch and rides a $180,000 Mercedes Benz. (The state-run Iran Economist – April 2, 2014)

The highest officials of the Iranian regime are now in trouble for being involved in the plunders carried out by Babak Zanjani. Saeed Mortazavi, the master henchman in charge of the tragic killing of students in Kahrizak Prison in 2009, was a partner of Babak Zanjani in plundering the assets of the Social Security Organization when he chaired the organization.

Babak Zanjani is also a close and old friend of Hassan Mir-Kazemi, one of the ring leaders of the armed plainclothes agents who suppressed and killed protesting youths during the 2009 uprising. Defending this criminal, Zanjani said, “It really wasn't his fault; he only did his professional job and during the 2009 problems, he also had a weapon because of his responsibility, and nothing special happened.” (The BBC Persian service – March 6, 2016)

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