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Public business records reveal a financial connection between IRGC founder and prominent Expediency Council member Mohsen Rezaei, and former Tehran mayor Mohammad Qalibaf–himself a former IRGC commander. The pair have a common relative who is an executive at Shahr Bank, a financial institution owned by Tehran municipality and one of Iran’s top 20 publicly traded banks. (Shahr Bank holds about $500 million in assets, or 0.1 percent of the total market share, according to the 2016 international investments report by Arqaam Capital.)

Notably, both Rezaei and Qalibaf presided over the IRGC conglomerate Khatam al-Anbia during their careers. Both men are at the center of political, military and business networks that place family members and close friends in key posts to maintain power.

Marriages of Convenience

The common relative between Rezaei and Qalibaf is Mehdi Ahmadi. (Rezaei’s daughter Zahra is married to Seyyed Mohammad Mehdi Ahmadi, whose sister is married to Qalibaf’s son.) Ahmadi has used his connection to both the Qalibaf and Rezaei families to secure various positions in Shahr Bank and its subsidiaries, according to various news reports. 

In one such incident, when Qalibaf stepped down as mayor in 2017, Ahmadi was removed from the board of Bank-e Shahr. But this development lasted a very short time. Ahmadi quickly regained the position after a coordinated campaign of intense lobbying, according to tweets by Iranian journalists. The influential Tabnak news website, which is owned by the Rezaei family, had run a story accusing the new team at the Tehran municipality of corruption and “mafia tactics” for trying to replace Ahmadi.

Bank Shahr’s Vast Influence :

Under Ahmadi’s patronage, Bank Shahr maintains an extensive network of subsidiaries and shareholders, including:

  • Golgohar Mining and Industrial Co (GEG): Mohammad Jalalmaab from the IRGC’s elite Quds Force was on its board
  • Mobarakeh Steel Co: An entity that has ties to Bonyad Taavon Sepah
  • Behshahr Industrial Development Corp: An entity that has dealings with EN Bank, Bank Melli subsidiaries and Ghadir Investment
  • Tourism Bank
  • Alborz Insurance: Includes Bank Mellat companies among its shareholders
  • Chadormalu Mining and Industrial Co.: Entities that have Quds Force among their board members  
  • Hormozgan Steel Co
  • Pasargad Oil Co.: Affiliated with Tamin
  • Caspian Tamin Pharmaceutical Co.: Affiliated with Tamin
  • Oil Industry Investment Co.: Affiliated with NIOC
  • Caspian Sea Shipping Lines Co.: An entity owned by IRISL
  • Iranian Investment Petrochemical Group
  • Iran Transfo: An entity in which Mohsen Rezaei’s son was a board member
  • Arfa Iron and Steel: An entity that has Sepah Bank among its shareholders. All military banks were supposed to merge with this bank.
  • Iran Zinc Mines Development Co.: An entity in which BTS companies are a majority shareholder
  • Sinadarou Labs Co.: An entity that has banks Saderat, Tejarat and Melli among its shareholders
  • Isfahan Cement Co.

Government, Money and the Media

Ahmadi also has an extensive curriculum vitae holding positions of power in government, media and various financial institutions, including:

  • Ahmadi has served on the boards of Bank Employees Savings Fund, Shahr Leasing and Shahr International Commercial Development Co. 
  • He has been also a board member at Rezaei’s Tabnak News website from 2013. 
  • Various Iranian media sources indicate Ahmadi was also executive deputy of the Expediency Council, a 28-member body with the power to veto bills passed by the Majles, Iran’s parliament. Public announcements confirming this appointment are not available. 

✶ This post is also available in: فارسی (Persian)

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