Reuters: Iran's Setad controls properties worth more than Iran's oil exports

By Marc Castro

Nov 11, 2013 10:38 PM EST

In a Reuters news investigation, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei controls not only the country but a personal business empire worth nearly USD95 billion. This is a sum exceeding his country's petroleum export value for 2013.

The organization overseeing such wealth, as revealed by a six month investigation by Reuters, is called Setad and has been one of the foundations for the leader's continued hold on power. The company holds shareholdings in every sector of Iranian industry, such as finance, telecommunications, oil, medication and even as mundane as ostrich farming.

It built its empire through the systematic confiscation of thousands of properties that had belonged to ordinary Iranians, such as members of the religious minority, the Shi'ite Muslims, business people and even those Iranians living abroad.

The investigation is detailed in a three part series, documented the manner in which Setad collected the real estate portfolio it now holds through claims in Iranian courts that said properties were abandoned, Now, the organization has a monopoly on the confiscation or property for the suprmee leader. The firm regularly sells off the properties in auctions or they mulct payments from its original owners.

The full name of the organization in Persian reads as "Setad Ejraiye Farmane Hazrate Emam" or Headquarters for Executing the Order of Imam. The intent for the creation of the entity was to manage and sell properties that were abandoned after the chaotic years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Under Khamanei, the organization had expanded its interests, such as the purchase of shareholdings in nearly a dozen of Iranian companies both public and private. The goal was to create an Iranian conglomerate to increase the country's economic growth.

Setad Director General of Public Relations Hamid Vaezi, through an email, said that the information presented in the series is 'far frm realities and is not correct.' He added, "This communication puts you on notice that any action by your organization could prejudice our dispute in the United States and harm our position for which we hold you responsible."

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