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Clan: The Qalibaf Network
Region: Tehran
Major industries: Urban development, charities, investment funds

The business network around former Tehran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf comprises relatives, close friends and former Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) associates who run lucrative charities and urban development programs that fall under the purview of Tehran Municipality. They use their political positions to benefit other network members as well as the interests of major bonyads, to which Qalibaf has been beholden throughout his political and military career. 

Qalibaf, who previously served as commander of the IRGC’s Khatam-al Anbia conglomerate, struck a controversial deal between Tehran Municipality and the IRGC in 2013. As mayor, Qalibaf awarded Khatam-al Anbia an exclusive four-year $6.06 billion urban development contract in Tehran, bypassing public procurement procedures.

Qalibaf also oversaw the sale of two plots of land earmarked for public parking to Ansar Bank, owned by the IRGC’s Sepah Cooperative Foundation (BTS). Ansar Bank used the 11,000-square-meter plot to build the Atlas luxury shopping mall. Ansar Bank then bought a second plot of land, also earmarked for public parking, and is currently building a skyscraper and hotel in this 75,000-square-meter plot. 

Direct business interests 

Qalibaf himself is on board of directors of three entities, public business registry documents show: 

  • Iran Association of Geopolitics
  • Khorasan, a private university
  • Sepad Khorasan Co., a real estate development company involved in building malls, recreational centers and other tourism-related industries

Family members and friends

  • Elias Qalibaf is a son who was on the board of directors in Shams ol-Shomous school, a subsidiary of Imam Reza Charity
  • Eshaq Qalibaf is a son who has been alleged to have business interests in Australia
  • Zahra Moshir-ol Estekhareh, Qalibaf’s wife, and Nosrat Moshir-ol Estekhareh, Qalibaf’s in-law, work at Imam Reza Charity
  • Seyyed Mohammad Ali Moshir-ol Estekhareh (a Qalibaf in-law) sits on the boards of Nasim Barakat Trade Co. and Payam Salamat Pasargad 
  • Reza Moshir is a brother-in-law with ties to Algeria, Senegal, Turkey, and Australia and is suspected of money laundering
  • Seyyed Mohammad Mehdi Ahmadi is Elias Qalibaf’s brother-in-law and the son-in-law of IRGC commander Mohsen Rezaei

Qalabaf’s circle of friends include: 

  • MP Reza Shiran Khorasani is a close friend and adviser
  • Farhad Yaqoubi Qazvini, who once served as coordinations deputy for the Iranian police when Qalibaf was police commander and has IRGC ties
  • Seyyed Jafar Tashakori Hashemi, whom Qalibaf has known since his days as police chief and who followed him to Tehran municipality
  • Seyyed Mehdi Tashakori Hashemi (Jafar’s brother), who serves as Qalibaf’s IT adviser
  • Seyyed Mohammad Javad Shoushtari is another one of his advisers, who was recently appointed as the CEO of the International Quran News Agency (IQNA)
  • Seyyed Mohammad Hadi Ayazi is another one of his friends from his police days
  • Mohammad Baqer Zamir Khorsandi is a friend from IRGC days
  • Alireza Zarif Ramezani Qalibaf is a relative with ties to the IRGC
  • Meysam Emroudi is a cleric and friend with ties to the supreme leader’s family and various charities
  • Abbas Iravani is the CEO of Ezam Group, who is implicated in a corruption scandal
  • Masoumeh Abad is a former Tehran councilwoman who is also implicated in a corruption scandal
  • Mohammad Hossein Madhoush Tousi, who is extensively involved with Basij Cooperative Foundation (BTB) and BTS companies
  • Mahmoud Moqanian, who is extensively involved with BTB companies

The connection: Imam Reza Charity

What all these individuals have in common is their involvement with Imam Reza Charity, an institution that belongs to Qalibaf’s wife Zahra Moshir-ol Estekhareh. The charity, with its many subsidiaries, has been widely criticized for receiving preferential treatment. Leaked documents show that in one instance, Qalibaf used his position as the Mayor of Tehran to broker a deal with Mostazafan Foundation to secure a plot of land for Shamsolshomous School, which is run by Qalibaf’s son Elias and is a subsidiary of Imam Reza Charity, run by Qalibaf’s wife. 

Other conflicts of interest

Qalibaf’s abuse of power is not limited to this one instance. During his mayorship, he awarded lucrative city contracts to his associates and appointed his wife and friends to the boards of many other municipality-run companies. In one instance, Zahra Moshir-ol Estekhareh, Seyyed Mohammad Javad Shoushtari and Meysam Emroudi were all appointed to the board of the Cultural and Art Organization, which receives 4 percent of the Tehran municipality’s annual income, or the equivalent of $13 million. (This estimate is based on last year’s municipality income of about 1.17 trillion tomans, or $330 million.) The organization controls cultural centers, galleries, libraries, and museums in the Iranian capital. 

  • The cleric Meysam Emroudi and Seyyed Mohammad Hadi Ayazi, Qalibaf’s adviser, were both appointed to the municipality’s Tose Fazahaye Farhangi company. During Ayazi’s tenure as a board member there, the organization received municipal contracts to build, renovate, and develop mosques, movie theaters, the Iranian Artists Forum, and museums.
  • Ayazi’s other positions include Tehran Municipality Employees Investment Fund, Hamshahri newspaper, Tehran Comprehensive Transportation and Traffic Studies Company (TCTTS), and a Tehran municipality Co-op. Ayazi has been and is affiliated with Saipa Sports Club, a multisport club based in Tehran and Karaj which owns a Football team, and Moheb Salamat Iranian Co. which according to its articles of incorporation buys, merges, and closes hospitals and healthcare units and lists “confiscating land for the company” as one of its functions.
  • Qalibaf’s adviser Shoushtari became board chairman of Milad Tower, a telecommunication and tourist attraction in Tehran that includes a convention center, restaurants, a shopping mall and a hotel. 
  • Emroudi, a cleric who has shared business interests with members of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s family through Imam Sadeq Bonyad and Charity and Safiran Sobh Rouyesh Institute, was appointed to Shahrvand Chainstore Co, one of the largest retailers in the country. 
  • Mohammad Baqer Zamir Khorsandi, who sits on the board of various IRGC-owned companies, was appointed as the board chairman of City Industries and Mines Development Group, and Shahr International Commercial Development Co, both subsidiaries of the municipality-owned City Bank (Bank-e Shahr).
  • Seyyed Jafar Tashakori Hashemi was appointed to the boards of municipality-affiliated companies such as Tehran Shahr-e Salem, Hadiyan Shar-e Tehran, Tehran Metro Company, Tehran Bus Company and Tehran Auto Inspections HQ. Jafar Tashakori Hashemi was also on the board of the police bonyad-owned Rahgoshaye Naji Co. which provides auto and motorcycle license plates replacements and issues driver’s licenses. 
  • Mehdi and Jafar Tashakori Hashemi own a company called Banafa Qeshm, which provided security and traffic cameras for the Tohid, Niyayesh, and Sadr Amir Kabir tunnels as well as for the Laleh, Tajrish, Bahonar, and Andisheh parking structures. All of them were major city contracts.
  • Jafar Tashakori Hashemi, Reza Shiran Khorasani and Shoushtari all were on the  board of a company called Orf Iran, which designs, manufactures and installs traffic lights, cameras, and road signs. 
  • Shiran Khorasani is the chairman of Nedaye Majma Rasekh, which lists its business fields as urban beautification, making billboards, catering, obtaining loans, and recycling.
  • Seyyed Mohammad Mehdi Ahmadi, who is related to both the Qalibaf family and Mohsen Rezai, has served on the board of City (Shahr) Bank, Shahr Bank Employees Savings Fund, Shahr Leasing, Shahr International Commercial Development Co., and Tabnak news website.

This post is also available in: فارسی (Persian)

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