This post is also available in: فارسی (Persian)
Former Bonyad Mostazafan exec’s network of “do-gooders” includes embezzlers and sex traffickers
His charity was a front for sex trafficking, his brother is a convicted embezzler, his business associates include money launderers and environmental offenders. Former Bonyad Mostazafan CEO Mohsen Rafiqdoust, 81, is one of the most disreputable figures in the Islamic Republic. Throughout his career as a bodyguard, arms dealer, and bonyad executive, his name has been at the center of multiple scandals—all of which he has walked away from unscathed.
Public records suggest Rafiqdoust and members of his network have been involved in at least seven corruption scandals, detailed here.
Following a high-profile career in the IRGC, Rafiqdoust became the CEO of Bonyad Mostazafan on July 22, 1989. He retired from the post in 1999 following a 473 million-dollar embezzlement scandal in which his brother Morteza was arrested and another associate executed for “corruption on earth.”
Despite his association with this and other scandals, Rafiqdoust has remained influential in a vast network of do-gooder organizations, many of which work with children and young people. His name is associated with at least seven charities, including a chain of private schools, seminaries, and halfway houses.
Below is a detailed overview of the people and history behind one of the Islamic Republic’s most controversial kingpins.
Rafiqdoust’s first break came when, in 1979, he was plucked from obscurity to become the driver of the vehicle transporting Ruhollah Khomeini from Mehrabad airport to Tehran’s Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery, where the soon-to-be leader of Iran was to address the crowds upon his return from exile.
Rafiqdoust continued his meteoric rise by the ayatollah’s side, first becoming Khomeini’s bodyguard and head of his security, then a founding member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) 1. He was appointed as Iran’s first IRGC minister, holding the position for nearly six years.
Since his early IRGC days, Rafiqdoust professed an interest in money. In an interview last year, the octogenarian recalls “going into business” to raise funds for the newly formed paramilitary.
Arms Deals with Tripoli and Pyongyang
Rafiqdoust also claims he was the man in charge of purchasing weapons for Iran during the war with Iraq, though some aspects of his account raise questions about whether he has exaggerated the scope of his involvement.
He recalls buying weapons in Eastern Europe alongside Syrian and Libiyan military officers and claims he himself brought back “a shipment of weapons from Libya.” Rafiqdoust’s quest for weapons also took him to China and North Korea.
He claims he never used third-party brokers to negotiate arms deals, instead dealing directly with dictators like Kim Il-sung and Muammar Qaddafi. Despite allegedly enjoying the highest level of international contacts, he also claims he had no knowledge of Iran-Contra, the now-infamous secret arms deal with the United States in the early 1980s.
In a 2014 interview, Rafiqdoust claimed that he had prepared the grounds for a WMD program that was to make “chemical, biological, and nuclear” weapons, but that his plan was rejected by Khomeini.
Rafiqdoust went on to become the CEO of Bonyad Mostazafan (BM) in 1989 and held this position for nearly a decade. He was praised by Ali Khamenei as the man who saved BM. He continues to be a trustee of BM, which is one of the bonyads under Khamenei’s purview.
Rafiqdoust, an octogenarian, has never retired from the IRGC. After leaving his official position at Bonyad Mostazafan, he started his own foundation. For decades, he has been active in charities, religious institutions, religious schools, and businesses ranging from pharmaceutical companies to construction and import-export firms. He maintains close ties with his IRGC comrades and has mutual interests with high-profile Islamic Republic officials and the political-business elite.
Here is a detailed look at Rafiqdoust’s network.
Rafiqdoust is connected to at least seven charities.
1. Nour Foundation
This is the Rafiqdoust clan’s main bonyad, in which several family members hold executive positions. Mohsen Rafiqdoust, the CEO and board chairman, founded it in March 1994. His sons Amir Hossein (vice chairman), Yasser (board member), and Saeed (trustee) are also involved with the foundation.
One of Nour Foundation’s founding members and former trustees is Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Ghayouri (d. 2014), who was the founder of the Islamic Revolution Committees 2 of Shahr-e Rey; the Friday prayer leader and Supreme Leader’s representative in Rey; one of the founding members of the Islamic Economy Organization (IEO), which encompasses 1,200 lending funds and credit institutions; a trustee of the Abdol Azim Shrine; and the custodian of the Ibn Babawayh Shrine. Ghayouri was also one of the founders of Baqiyat Salehat Charity (see below) and the Almahdi Bonyad, which operates in Africa.
The second notable trustee of Nour foundation is Mohammad Ali Amani Hamadani, a former Evin Prison warden linked to the torture of prisoners after the 1979 Revolution and the deputy secretary general of the Islamic Coalition Party.
In an interview from 2009, Rafiqdoust revealed that his Nour Foundation is involved in the production of drugs including azithromycin, an antibiotic. In another interview from 2015, Rafiqdoust states that Nour Foundation builds and rents homes in addition to producing drugs.
Nour Foundation was at the center of a scandal in 2000 when it was accused of funding a brothel.
This charity, which is audited by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s accounting firm, Mofid Rahbar, was founded to “meet the financial needs of seminaries particularly in underprivileged areas, taking care of impoverished clerics,” “establishing educational centers,” “creating research centers and libraries,” “opening and managing sports arenas and gyms,” and “any and all trade activities including import-export” among other things.
Its founding members include Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani 3 and Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Ghayouri (see above), as well as Ala Mir-Mohammad Sadeqi, Mohsen Rafiqdoust, and Seyyed Ali Naqi Khamoushi, who are all current board members.
Ala Mir-Mohammad Sadeqi4, a member of the Islamic Coalition Party, is involved with various Khamenei family businesses, a founding member of the IEO and board chairman of the Iran-Canada Chamber of Commerce.
The uncle of Seyyed Mehdi Khamoushi, Ali Naqi Khamoushi is the first BM director and one of the founding members of the Islamic Coalition Party, which played a vital role in the victory of the Revolution in Iran. It represents the older generation of Iranian conservatives and has roots that run deep in the Bazaar. The Islamic Coalition Party is the party of the one percenters who pull the strings of Iranian politics and business.
Baqiyat Salehat Charity manages several religious schools and seminaries.
Considered a charity that only caters to orphans who are Sadat—i.e., descendents of the Prophet Muhammad—Etrat Fatemi has connections to influential bonyads like Astan Quds Razavi and Imam Khomeini Relief Fund.
The charity signed an MoU with Astan Quds Razavi 5 in 2020 and one with Imam Khomeini Relief Fund (IKRF) in 2016 in which Etrat Fatemi agreed to take over the obligations of IKRF with regards to the 1,500 Sadat orphans seeking aid from the organization.
According to public records from the Majles, Etrat Fatemi was also involved in importing automobiles and wanted to use a Pahlavi-era customs law that exempts charities from paying customs tax and fees.
Rafiqdoust is a member of its board of directors. Past and present board members include:
- Seyyed Reza Nayeri (d. 2017) – Board Chairman
A longtime member of the Islamic Coalition Party, Nayeri was one of the founders of IKRF and its director for 27 years. Before his death, Nayeri was vice chairman of the Association of the Supporters of the Development of Seminaries (SL family), trustee of Be’sat Foundation (religious bonyad and publisher), and a board member of the Society for the Defence of Palestinian Nation (Qalibaf network).
- Zahra-Sadat Nayeri – CEO, Board Member
The daughter of Seyyed Reza Nayeri, Zahra sits on the board of two other charities: Boutorab Khoy Charity and the National Network of Charities Supporting Orphans. Both of these institutions also have Mohammad Ali Hadi Najafabadi , who was sentenced in the Sarmayeh Bank case, on their board of directors.
- Mostafa Morsali – Board Chairman
Morsali is a cleric with close ties to Ali Khamenei and one of the founders of the Islamic Revolution Committees that dispatched impromptu justice to perceived enemies of the 1979 Revolution in the early years of the regime. He represented the supreme leader at Sharif University, traveled with Ali Akbar Velayati on diplomatic missions, and founded the Ghadir Encyclopedia Foundation with Velayati. Morsali is the CEO of Ashura International Bonyad, which was created on the order of the supreme leader to promote Khamenei’s agenda internationally. He is also a trustee of the Iranian Anti-Tobacco Association. Morsali is also a founding member and trustee of Khatam University along with Ali Akbar Salehi, the director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).
- Ebrahim Asgarian Damavandi – Vice Chairman
Asgarian Damavandi is one of the wealthiest men in Iran and the founder of Kaveh Glass Industrial Group, a holding established in 1984. He is on the board of several organizations and charities connected to the supreme leader’s family. 6 It should be noted that despite one of his factories in Maragheh, East Azarbaijan, being responsible for groundwater contamination due to improper waste management, Damavandi has not been held accountable.
The charity’s other board members include Seyyed Ali Naqi Khamoushi, Seyyed Abbas Pour Hashemi 7 (former VP for the development of rural areas and impoverished areas), Moammad Reza Masjedi (secretary general of the Iranian Anti-Tobacco Association) 8, Tabarak Sobhani (former IKRF director), Ali Haji Seyyed Soleiman (Iranian Anti-Tobacco Association trustee), Mohammad Taheri Jebeli (speaker for the International Front for the liberation of Imam Musa Sadr), and Majid Shayesteh (cleric Mohsen Qaraati’s son-in-law).
4. Enfaq Sols Charity
This charity, which is affiliated with Khamenei relative Mahmoud Lolachian, works to promote “the culture of will writing” and to encourage people to bequeath one-third of their worldly possessions to the charity after their death, according to its website.
Rafiqdoust, Ebrahim Asgarian Damavandi, and Ali Haji Seyyed Soleiman, who are all on the board of Etrat Fatemi Charity, are also on the board of Enfaq Sols.
5. Association of Charities Supporting the Expansion of Seminaries (ACSES)
Mohsen Rafiqdoust is a trustee and current vice chairman of the board of directors.
The current and past board members and trustees of this charity include Ali Khamenei’s relatives such as Ebrahim Ansarian and Mahmoud Loulachian 9 as well as former attorney general and current member of the Assembly of Experts Morteza Moqtadaei, former Rouhani chief-of-staff and current vice president for economic affairs Mohammad Nahavandian, and IEO founder Ala Mir-Mohammad Sadeqi.
6. National Association of Charities Constructing Mosques
This mosque-building charity was founded in 2012. Its founding members include Mahmoud Lolachian (Khamenei family) as board chairman, Mohsen Rafiqdoust as vice chairman, Hossein Mir-Mohammad Sadeqi 10, Majid Shayesteh (Mohsen Qarati’s son-in-law), and Mojtaba Araqchi. With the exception of Shayesteh, everyone else on the founding board of this institute is also on the board of Imam Mahdi Cultural Bonyad (see below).
7. Ahdaf Nikan
This institution appears to be involved in charitable affairs and offers “necessary assistance to charities, the needy, the underprivileged, orphans and the elderly” and is involved in “opening/ building schools, clinics, hospitals and housing and in general undertaking public interest projects,” according to an item posted on the Entrepreneurship Center of the University of Science and Technology website.
Rafiqdoust is the chairman of this company’s board of directors. The other two board members are:
- Akbar Ghamkhar – Vice Chairman, Board Member
Ghamkhar is an IRGC commander who was the Guards’ logistical director and head of the IRGC Nouh HQ during the 1980s war with Iraq. According to Tasnim, after the Iraq-Iran War, Ghamkhar headed the BM hotels and tourism division and later became the CEO of the IRGC Cooperative Foundation (BTS) for several years. He subsequently headed the Touring & Automobile Club of Iran and briefly became the CEO of FC Persepolis (three years). Ghamkhar also managed Fath Tehran FC and was the chairman of the board of Sabaye Qom FC.
He has positions on the board of several travel agencies as well as companies related to the Prisoners’ Cooperative Foundation, aka Bonyad Taavon Zandanian (BTZ).
His brother Ali Ghamkhar is also very active in the tourism industry and has executive positions in various travel and tourism companies.
- Hossein Akhavan – CEO, Board Member
1. Akebono Boeki – This import-export company is based in Japan and deals in organic fruit, dried fruit, processed fruits and vegetables, herbs, essential oils, saffron, and marine products from the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf.
2. Najm Al Afaq – Established in the UAE in 1994, Iranian sources say the company specializes in finance, credit, and providing raw materials for factories. Bloomberg describes it as a “general trading company” and says its line of business includes “the wholesale distribution of electronic parts and electronic communications equipment.”
3. DK Composites – Established in Malaysia in 1997, this company “utilizes advanced composite materials in the design, manufacture and installation of architectural structures,” according to its website, and has a client base “in Europe, the Middle East, the US, Australia, and Asia.”
4. Moj Nikan Co – A car radio, antenna, and speaker manufacturer for Iran Khodro and Saipa, Iran’s biggest carmakers, which have ties to BTS, Tamin, and EIKO.
5. Nour Ista Plastic – This company is a subcontractor for Iran Khodro, Saipa, and other Iranian carmakers and produces composite parts including ones for automobiles.
6. Noor Ista Khorasan – This company offers assembly line services for the front and back panels of Iran Khodro cars.
8. Paya Plast Iranian – This company’s website describes it as the largest manufacturer of sheet molding compound (SMC) and bulk molding compound (BMC) in the Middle East. Its products are used in various industries including “automotive, water and sewage, electronics, lighting, interior design, railways, and durable urban structures.”
9. Polymeri Tadbir Nikan Co. – Established in 2017, the company is involved in “the production of various composite materials, engineering compounds and import of polymer products” that are used in a wide range of industries, such as the “automotive industry, injection molding parts, composite parts, electronic components, pipes and fittings, and home appliances.”
10. Emen Ista Electric Co. – Founded in 2007, this company is the exclusive manufacturer of glass fiber reinforced polyester (GRP) electrical enclosures, GRP sectional water storage tanks, and GRP manhole covers in Iran.
11. Towse-e Aria Peyvand Co. (Tapco) – This company has been licensed by different international brands to produce banking equipment, smart cards, contactless cards, safes and safety deposit boxes, telecommunication equipment, and electronic and electric parts.
12. Tadbir Nikan Iran – An investment company that owns the shares of various Nikan Holding subsidiaries.
13. Darougostar Tadbir Nikan aka Nikan Pharma – This pharmaceutical company produces makeup products and supplements.
14. Bonsai Massage and Beauty – A Japanese-style spa and wellness center in Tehran.
15. SPA Hana – A Japanese-style spa and bath in Tehran. It states on its websites that it uses the expertise of Akebono Boeki to promote Japanese bath culture (onsen) in Iran. Akebono Boeki is an exporter of food, as mentioned above.
There are also various companies that Akhavan established whose present ownership is unclear or which have been dissolved. Most notably:
- Qataran Gol Iranian – A producer of rosewater, herbal distillates, vinegars, mayonnaise, salad dressings, and ketchup. This company falls under the 1and1group brands along with other subsidiaries such as Maedeh Food Industries (BTS).
- Nikan Shahd Barez – This company’s shares were transferred to 1and1group. Its line of business is producing and exporting fruit juices, concentrates, drinks, and purees.
- Sibestan – A producer of natural concentrates and fruit juices for export.
- Golden Star Kish (Setareh Talaei Kish) – This company is involved in designing and producing industrial parts, and assembling electronics and appliances. It launched the first pager system in Iran.
- Nikan Negar Afrouz – This company, which produced floppy disks, is now defunct.
- Mehr-e Nikan Tourism Development Co. – In dissolution.
- Paya Composite – This company, which was once involved in producing doors, is also in dissolution.
- Fanavaran Electronic Pishtaz – This company offered engineering services.
- Naftran Qeshm – This company designed, manufactured, distributed, bought, and sold oil industry equipment.
- Nasim Gostar Naft – This company specialized in heating and cooling products.
- Barin Sazan – This company was an importer and exporter of industrial parts.
Religious Bonyads and Institutions
Established on August 30, 2000, this bonyad is involved in “educational, research, and missionary activities,” “publishes books and distributes CDs,” and establishes “educational centers.” The bonyad also “monitors deviant currents and networks that create and cast doubt on the issue of Mahdaviat.” 11
Rafiqdoust is a life-time trustee of this foundation along with cleric Mohsen Qaraati (head of the Prayers Headquarters), Seyyed Mojtaba Araqchi (head of the handwoven carpet guild of Tehran and brother of Abbas Araqchi, the political deputy of the foreign minister), Hassan Firouzabadi 12 (senior military advisor to the supreme leader and member of the Expediency Council), Mahmoud Lolachian (Meysam Khamenei’s father-in-law), Mohammad Reza Ayatollahi (former minister of industries, former deputy director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, former governor general of Tehran), Hossein Mir-Mohammad Sadeqi 13 (former judiciary speaker, current Majles legal affairs deputy), and Hossein Mozaffar (former education minister), among others.
Former IRGC commander-in-chief Yahya Rahim Safavi, currently the supreme leader’s special military adviser, is the chairman of this bonyad’s board of directors.
In an interesting crossover between Rafiqdoust’s various networks, the Prayers Headquarters headed by Mohsen Qaraati states on its website that one of its missions is using its promotional capacities to advance the agenda of Imam Mahdi Cultural Bonyad.
2. Payam-e Fatemeh Cultural and Arts Institute
This institute is dedicated to teaching courses on speeches made by Fatemeh, the Prophet’s daughter, and using the help of government institutions to promote her words among Iranians. The institute also puts out books related to Fatemeh.
Rafiqdoust is the board chairman of this institute.
Rafiqdoust is one of the founders of this foundation which was incorporated in 2011 to promote family values, “strengthen religious beliefs,” and “offer sex education.” Other notable founding members include Habibollah Bourbour and Seyyed Mohammad Hadi Ayazi (Qalibaf network).
4. Iran’s National Family Bonyad
Founded on February 26, 2017, this bonyad’s articles of incorporation state that it was created to “promote the Islamic-Iranian family model based on Islamic teachings, encourage individuals to easy marriage [practices],” and “developing the fundamental notions of family as conceptualized by the two leaders of the Islamic Republic.”
The bonyad envisions achieving these goals through a series of vague measures like “identifying public potentials” and not so vague measures such as “holding workshops and educational courses.”
Mohsen Rafiqdoust is currently an alternate inspector in this bonyad. Other board members include:
- Seyyed Ahmad Oboudatian Harandi – Treasurer, Founding Board Member
Oboudatian is the current commander of Khatam-ol-Osia HQ, which was initially created to replace international oil and gas companies in Iran in 2009. Khatam ol-Osia is the sister company of the IRGC conglomerate Khatam-al Anbia (Khatam HQ) and both fall under the BTS umbrella.
- Jamal Aberoumand – Board Chairman, Founding Member, IRGC, BTS, EIKO
Aberoumand is an IRGC commander who is currently serving as Majles Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf’s assistant for “services and progress.” Abreoumand has previously served as commander of the IRGC’s Imam Hossein University, deputy commander of the IRGC Soft War HQ, chief of the Joint Staff of the IRGC, deputy logistics commander of the Khatam HQ, and deputy logistics commander of the IRGC ground forces, among other positions.
- Mohammad Hossein Rezaei – Board Member since inception
Mohammad Hossein Rezai served as the director of the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization for nearly two decades. He has close ties to reformist figures like Abdollah Nouri, and Isfahan Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Taheri (d. 2013) and his family.
Abdollah Nouri is a former Khatami-era interior minister and has held positions in the Majles, Expediency Council, and IRGC. His brother Alireza Nouri, an MP in the 6th Majles, was Mohammad Hossein Rezaei’s son-law. Alireza Nouri died in an accident in 2002. Upon Alireza’s death, Abdollah Nouri, who was in prison serving a five-year sentence on various political and religious charges, was released from jail.
Ayatollah Taheri’s son, Mohammad Hassan, is married to Khomeini’s granddaughter Naeemeh Eshraqi. Ironically, Mohammad Hassan Taheri, also a cleric, was convicted of crimes including insulting the supreme leader, promoting anti-establishment propaganda, and disrupting public order in 2012. He was sentenced to four years in prison, 74 lashes, and a ten-year forced relocation to Zabol, Sistan Baluchestan Province. His daughter Naeima Taheri has been a recurring topic of discussion among Iranian social media users15 as she likes to flaunt her extravagant lifestyle abroad (in the US and Canada) and does not observe any of the strict hejab guidelines that were put in place by her great-grandfather Rouhollah Khomeini in Iran. Her mother, Naemeh Eshraqi, was also in the habit of flaunting her wealth on Instagram but stopped after a public backlash.
Mohammad Hossein Rezaei is also connected to the business networks of several Islamic Republic heavy hitters previously mapped by Tehran Bureau, including:
- The Khamenei family through Imam Sadeq Charity and Welfare Bonyad, Rahmat-e Vase’eh Bonyad, National Association of Charities Constructing Mosques
- Qalibaf Network through Imam Reza Charity
- Bourbour Network through Shajareh Mavadat Sadat and the Family Values Bonyad
- Mounes Sayyah – Board member since inception
Sayyah is an academic who seems to be teaching a range of topics including Islamic ethics, Islamic history, and Quranic tafsir (explication) at Sharif University’s Center for Islamic Sciences and Humanities.
She is also one of the founding members of the Clean Cyberspace Association (FAMP), an organization connected to the Khamenei family that is actively involved in efforts to push for more internet censorship in Iran.
Sayyah once received a commendation from the first International Hejab and Chastity Conference in 2012.
5. Darul Huda Charity and Cultural Bonyad
According to its website, Darul Huda was established to promote Shiism in Africa and to “culturally counter the satanic plots and ominous inroads of the enemies of God and colonialist countries that want to convert Africa with over 1 billion population, 50% of whom are Muslim, to Christianity.”
The highlighted activities and achievements of this bonyad are listed as:
- Finding target countries and conducting studies to determine the best strategies to employ in said countries.
- Visiting with the Sources of Emulation (i.e., grand ayatollahs) to inform them of the bonyad’s intended mission, whereafter the ayatollahs agreed to use 50 percent of the religious donations (taxes) they recieve on missionary work in Africa.
- Opening several seminaries in Tanzania as well as Islamic education centers in Tanzania, Burkina Faso, and Rwanda.
- Building mosques and Islamic centers in Tanzania and Uganda.
- Organizing missionary trips to Africa during which missionaries engaged in debates with the leaders of different religions in African media and ultimately succeeded in converting many of these religious leaders to Islam.
- Holding celebrations in Africa on the occasion of various Islamic holidays.
- Translating and preparing Islamic books and brochures in “languages that are usable in Africa.”
Rafiqdoust is a trustee along with Ebrahim Asgarian Damavandi (see above), Ali Naqi Khamoushi (see above), Manouchehr Mottaki (former foreign minister), Seyyed Mahmoud Chavoshi, and cleric Mostafa Foumani al-Haeri (former MP and Iranian envoy to the UAE).
Several of the institution’s current board members are former or current ambassadors and diplomats, including Mohammad Khazaei (former UN envoy), Seyyed Baqer Sakhaei (former envoy to Qatar and Tunisia), and Seyyed Javad Rasouli Mahalati (former envoy to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the Philippines and current envoy to Bulgaria).
Seyyed Baqer Sakhaei’s son Ehsan Sakhaei was named in the Bank Mellat corruption case.17 During the trial it emerged that one of Sakhaei Jr.’s companies, which was involved in Iran’s oil swap deals, had paid back only 19 million dollars of a 25.3 million dollar loan to Bank Mellat after seven years and now owed the bank not only the remaining 6 million dollars of principal but 15 million dollars in interest as well. Ehsan Sakhaei, who is the son-in-law of Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi, was not charged or prosecuted in connection with the Bank Mellat case.
Other Businesses and Institutions
1. Dolatabad Trade, Construction and Technical Co. 18
Not much information is available about this general contracting company, which was established on May 17, 1972, but Mohsen Rafiqdoust is its board chairman and his brother Morteza Rafiqdoust is also on the board of directors. There are no public records available for this company prior to 2018.
Dolatabad Trade, Construction and Technical Co. has another notable board member: Habibollah Tavasoli (vice chairman). Tavasoli is the CEO of Iran Ensheab, the top manufacturer of water meters in the country.
2. Medad Nour
The oldest available public records for Medad Nour show that in 2006 Hassan Rofougaran, the founder of the Bic pen factory in Iran, was the board chairman of this company and Hedayat Qotbi Alamoli, the former CEO of Behnan Gandom Novin (BTS), was its CEO.19 Amir Hossein Rafiqdoust was vice chairman and Yasser was a board member.
The company’s current board members are Mohsen Rafiqdoust (board chairman), his son Yasser (vice chairman), and his son Amir Hossein (CEO).
Mohammad Hossein Sheikh ol-Eslami is also on the board of Medad Nour. Sheikh ol-Eslami is the CEO of a trade company called Noutrika Tose’e Tejarat Kian, which “imports any and all parts and equipment needed by the Iranian film industry including censors, cameras, lenses, lighting and sound engineering equipment, any equipment needed by studios and managing movie theaters.” This company also has Habibollah Tavasoli’s (see above) son Mohammad Hassan as vice chairman.
At least one source claims Medad Nour is the producer of Lyra pencils in Iran.
This publishing house is one of the entities audited by the supreme leader’s accounting firm, Mofid Rahbar. It was a private organization that had its assets seized by the government following the 1979 Revolution.
Rafiqdoust is one of its trustees, along with Ali Larijani (former Majles Speaker), Mohammad Saeedikia (former BM director and current head of the BM board of trustees), Hossein Mozaffar (former education minister), and Seyyed Mohammad Sadeq Mousavi (who in 2007 was nominated for GC membership by the late Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi).
This institute’s founding board had high-profile individuals such as Qorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi (former intelligence minister and former attorney general)20 and Baqer Larijani (former Majles Speaker Ali Larijani’s brother). This organization was created “to help the academic development of the country.” Mohsen Rafiqdoust is its former board chairman. Some of the individuals connected to this institution include:
- Ebrahim Haj Ebrahimi – Board Chairman
An advisor with the presidential office’s Center for Innovation and Technology Collaborations who is connected to various nano drug and nanotechnology companies, charities, funds, and investment firms as well as the Raymon Petro Refinery and Mostafa Science and Technology Bonyad.21
- Ali Beitollahi – Board Member
He is among the founders of the Mostafa Science and Technology Bonyad.
- Saeed Sarkar – Vice Chairman, Trustee
Sarkar is connected to various nanotechnology and medical equipment companies such as Parseh Intelligent Surgical Systems Co. Sarkar is vice chairman of the Mostafa Science and Technology Bonyad. He holds a degree in nuclear medicine.
- Mehdi Safarinia – Treasurer
He is connected to tech companies and various funds in addition to being a board member of Mostafa Science and Technology Bonyad.
- Saber Mirzaei – Board Member, Trustee
He is involved with various nanotechnology companies, funds, oil and gas companies, and EIKO-linked tech companies such as Borhan Mobin Development Management Co. He is also a board member of Mostafa Science and Technology Bonyad.
- Seyyed Mahmoud Reza Sajjadi aka Reza Sajjadi – CEO, Board Member
He is on the board of companies like Tadbir Research Management Consultants (EIKO), Saba Mihan (Nat. Ret. Fund), and Mostafa Science and Technology Bonyad. Since 2007, Sajjadi has been on the board of the Iran Foreign Investment Company (IFIC), according to his now archived biography on the Iranian Embassy in Moscow’s website.
- Seyyed Javad Sadatinejad – Trustee
Sadatinejad is an MP who heads the Majles Agriculture Commission. He is a Moscow-educated hydrologist, connected to various Basij organizations at the university level.
5. Loghman Pharmaceuticals
This Fortune 500 company was briefly owned by Mohsen Rafiqdoust. It currently belongs to Jame al-Imam Sadeq (Imam Sadeq University Holding), which is controlled by the Mahdavi Kani clan, who are related to Ali Khamenei through marriage.
6. Bonyan Nour Qard al-Hasan Fund
This financial institution was founded in 1997 and has only a handful of public records available. The oldest records show Mohsen Rafiqdoust was a member of its board of directors while his son Amir Hossein was its vice chairman.
7. Amin Kafaf Investment Development
Established in October 2003, Amin Kafaf was created with the purpose of conducting “any and all permissible economic activities including import-export, purchase and sales related to agriculture, mining, industries, production, construction, stocks etc.”
The company’s founding board consisted of Ala Mir-Mohammad Sadeqi (board chairman), Seyyed Ali Naqi Seyyed Khamoushi (vice chairman), Mohsen Rafiqdoust (CEO), Mohammad Javad Rafiqdoust (board member), Reza Rafiqdoust (VP), Asadollah Asgaroladi (board member), Abbas Saeedinejad (board member), and Abolfazl Haji Heydari (board member).
While none of the original founding members are still on the board of Amin Kafaf, the current board of directors features individuals like Mohammad Javad Shamsian (CEO), Gholamreza Firouzian Haji (board chairman), and Navid Jafarinejad (board member).
Mohammad Javad Shamsian, as vice chairman, and Jalal Shamisian, as CEO and board chairman, are on the board of a company called Novin Orafa. According to its website, Novin Orafa has held exclusive rights to:
- Ads displayed in Iran’s video rental network (2001–6)
- Using TV characters in advertisements (2001)
- Ads displayed on footbridges in the cities of Tehran (2003–7), Eslamshahr and Golestan(2004–7), Karaj (2005–9), and Boomehen (2003–13), as well as northern Iran (2005–11)
- Digital billboards across Tehran (2006–7)
- Finding sponsors for the Iranian Alliance of Motion Picture Guilds (Khaneh Cinema) (2011–13)
- All domestic and foreign commercials on IRIB (2003–5). The company is a member of the consortium of companies permitted to accept and broadcast IRIB ads
- Ads displayed at Mehrabad Airport’s Terminal 6 (2003–7)
- All ads displayed outside and inside Imam Khomeini International Airport
- Foreign ads shown during the Persian Gulf Pro League football matches (2004–7)
The company has produced ads for various bonyad-owned companies, including Irancell (BM-EIKO), BM’s Financial and Credit Institute (now Bank Sina), Tak Makaron (Mottalebi Kashani), Rayen Automakers (Hassan Pelarak, QF), Day Insurance (BS), LG, Panasonic, JVC, Tefal, BEEM, Mulinex, Daewoo, Samsung, Canon, and Nokia.
Novin Orafa has produced and funded at least ten cinematic productions.
Another Novin Orafa executive, Gholamreza Firouzian Haji, was appointed as the VP for marketing and sales of the Iranian Tobacco company in 2014 and held the position for at least two years. He has held administrative positions in Majles and the Tehran Municipality, and was the director of marketing for the Tehran University Investment Organization.
Navid Jafarinejad, an Amin Kafaf board member, was previously on the board of BTS-linked companies such as Aval Mobin Saba Services.
Jafarinejad and Mohammad Javad Shamsian were both on the founding board of a company called Marja Gostaresh Khadamat-e Refahi va Elmi-e Saramad. Launched in November 2019, the company’s articles of incorporation say it is involved in “buying and selling smart cards,” “import-export of and offering after sales services for any and all legal products, participating in government and private tenders, onlines sales of goods and services . . . and customs services,” among other things. According to its profile on the job listing website Irantalent, the company is a service provider that offers “technological and payment solutions such as smart cards [and] mobile apps.”
8. Andisheh Nab Research, Political and Cultural Institute
This is an IRGC entity. Mohsen Rafiqdoust was an early trustee of Andisheh Nab along with other IRGC officers, including Mohsen Rezaei, Hossein Salami (current IRGC commander in chief), Gholamali Rashid (Khatam HQ), Ali Shamkhani (IRGC Navy), Hossein Alaei (IRGC Navy, Aseman Air CEO), Mohsen Rashid (IRGC), Bahador Aminian (envoy to Afghanistan), Mohammad Doroudian (IRGC), Ahmad Gholampour (IRGC commander, Imam Hossein University), Seyyedd Ali Hosseini Tash (IRGC commander, nuclear negotiator), Gholam Reza Mehrabi (IRGC, General Staff of the Armed Forces intelligence deputy), and Ebrahim Haji Mohammadzadeh (an IRGC co-founder).
The current trustees are IRGC commanders Mohsen Rezaei, Ahmad Gholampour, Gholamali Rashid, Hossein Alaei, Seyyedd Ali Hosseini Tash, Mohsen Kazemeini (Tehran IRGC commander), Alireza Andalib (IRGC), Asghar Rasoulzadeh (IRGC—Mohsen Rezaei’s chief of staff for 40 years), and Shamsulddin Barberoudi (IRGC).
Shamsulddin Barberoudi, alias Dr. Razavi, has held positions including commander of IRGC Qorb Qaem HQ, adviser to the minister of information and communications technology, and Fereydoun Abbasi’s deputy at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).
The Rafiqdoust Brothers
Rafiqdoust has at least two brothers:
- Morteza Rafiqdoust
Morteza received a life sentence for his role in a 123 trillion toman ($473 million dollar) embezzlement scandal in 1995, but his sentence was commuted after only eight years. While incarcerated, Morteza Rafiqdoust was appointed the purchasing agent for Evin Prison, which allowed him to leave the facility as he desired.
Morteza currently sits on the board of Dolatabad Trade, Construction and Technical Company (see above) and was previously a board inspector 22 for Shafa Teb Naman, where his son Alireza Raqfiqdoust was an alternative inspector.
According to public records, Shafa Teb Naman is in the business of “opening and managing elective surgery centers, opening and managing plastic surgery clinics, procuring hospital, lab, surgical and OR equipment, and drugs and implements used in plastic surgery,” as well as “the technical supervision and execution of anything pertaining to the construction, interior design, exterior design, and green spaces of residential and commercial buildings, government organizations,” and “import-export of all permissible products.”
Alireza Rafiqdoust was also a founding member and vice chairman of the board of Samim Tadbir Parsa, an import-export company that “designs, produces, procures, distributes and sells kitchen equipment.”
Morteza’s wife, Zahra Mohtashamipour, and his other son, Hamidreza, were both on the board of Rahavard Samim Co., which “procures, distributes and produces kitchenware, fruits and vegetables, import-export of any and all permissible products and . . . participates in domestic and international seminars.” Hamidreza, who was the board chairman, later became the company’s dissolution manager.
Zahra Mohtashamipour was also an executive with Nik Padideh Yas Co., which “produces and distributes bedspreads.”
- Mohammad Javad Rafiqdoust (d. 2020)
Mohammad Javad was one of the founding members of the Islamic Coalition Party and played an important role in opening the Refah School where Rouhollah Khomeini stayed upon returning to Iran following the 1979 Revolution. Khomeini stayed on the third floor while the second and first floors as well as the school’s basement were filled with prisoners. Sadeq Khalkhali, whom Khomeini later appointed as the chief justice of the Revolutionary Courts, sentenced 30 of the Pahlavi-era officials they were holding at the school to death, executing four of them on the rooftop.23
Before his death, Mohammad Javad was a trustee and board chairman of Rah-e Shayestegan Institute. He was also the treasurer of the Refah Cultural Bonyad. His fellow board members included:
- Mohsen Hashmi – son of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
- Naser Bahonar (CEO) – son of former prime minister Mohammad Javad Bahonar
- Abolfazl Tavakolibina – a friend of Ali Khamenei’s for 60 years
- Ala Mir-Mohammad Sadeqi (board chairman) – see above
Fars News reported last year that an independent audit of the National Land and Housing Organization of Iran (NLHO) had found that in 2010 the Refah Cultural Bonyad received a 2,200 square-meter plot of land estimated to be worth 7.9 billion tomans ($329,166) without doing any of the relevant paperwork and giving any of the necessary guarantees. The audit also found that nine years later, Refah School had paid back only about 30 percent of the amount to the NLHO, about 2.4 billion tomans ($987501).
Mohammad Javad’s son Reza Rafiqdoust sits on the board of Islamic Coalition Martyrs’ Cultural Institution (see above) as well as Anvar Sobhan Tehran, which according to public records “establishes private schools at every level from kindergarten, and elementary, to middle school and high school as well as art school.”
The Rafiqdoust Children
Mohsen Rafiqdoust has three sons and one daughter. His sons, Yasser, Amir Hossein, and Saeed, as well as his daughter, Mona 24, are all involved with various family businesses:
- Nour Foundation
Yasser is a member and his brother Amir Hossein is vice chairman of this bonyad’s board of directors. Saeed is a trustee of Nour Foundation.
- Medad Nour
Yasser is vice chairman, Amir Hossein is CEO, and Mohsen Rafiqdodust is the company’s current board chairman.
- Beh Kasht Sanat Nour Bamdad
This company’s articles of incorporation state it was created to “breed livestock including Murciana goats, obtaining loans and lines of credit from any and all domestic and international banks and credit institutions,” along with “livestock import-export, import of animal feed and purchasing machinery and equipment relevant to this business.”
Public records show Yasser is vice chairman, Amir Hossein is board chairman, and Saeed Rafiqdoust is the CEO of this company.
- Aseman Varzesh
This company, which was dissolved on Match 7, 2020, was an importer of “all permissible products, sports attire, shoes and equipment.” The official representative for Adidas and Reebok in Iran, it was closed after a government push to ban imports and focus on domestic production.
Aseman Varzesh was founded by the Rafiqdoust sons and their long-time business partner Mohammad-Hossein Hajjarzadeh. Hajjarzadeh’s daughter Mojan is the vice chairman of a Rafiqdoust family business called Tejarat Gostar Ofoq Nour—a position previously held by her husband Ehsan Alamdari. Sadra, Rafiqdoust’s grandson, is board chairman of this import-export company.
- Arman Darou Nour Gostar
This company is in the business of “importing raw materials,” as well as “drugs, foods, personal hygiene products, cosmetics, and dietary supplements.”
Yasser, Amir Hossein, and Mona Rafiqdoust are all on the board of this company.
- Arman Darou Nour
This company imports “raw material,” “food, personal hygiene products, cosmetics, dietary supplements,” and “prescription medication.”
Yasser (CEO), Amir Hossein (board chairman), Saeed (board member), and Mona Rafiqdoust (vice chairman) have all been on the board of this company.
- Talash Varzesh Parsian
Registered on Kish Island, a tax haven, this company “import-exports any and all legal products.”
Yasser is vice chairman and Amir Hossein Rafqdoust is board chairman of this company.
- Alvan Safar Iranian
This company specializes in “obtaining visas, planning and executing domestic and international tours, hotel reservations and all other tourism services.”
Public records show Yasser Rafiqdoust is board chairman of this company, which also has non-Iranian partners and executives.
- Kar No Nik
This is one of the companies owned by Ali Akbar Rofougaran, who owns the Bic pen factory in Iran.
Ali Akbar Rofougaran is board chairman and Yasser Rafiqdoust is vice chairman of the company.
- Bicyar Perfume
This company is licensed by the French Bic corporation to produce perfume.
Ali Akbar Rofougaran is the CEO and Yasser Rafiqdoust is the vice chairman of this company.
- Hedayat Houshmand Nour Gostar
This company is involved in “various production, trade, management, Urban development, engineering, and computer projects,” “investment in said projects,” “e-commerce,” and “creating green spaces and its maintenance, cooking and distributing foods and drinks, restaurant and coffee shop management, construction, and mass construction,” according to its articles of incorporation.
Yasser Rafiqdoust is a board member while his sister, Mona, chairs its board of directors.
- Faravardehay-e Daroueyi Notarkib (Recombinant Medicines )
This drug company produces medicine for both people and livestock, imports raw materials, and procures machinery needed for drug production and packaging.
Yasser Rafiqdoust once represented the interests of Nour Foundation on this company’s board of directors.
- Mojriyan Ertebatat Faran Sadra
The company specializes in attendance systems, import-export, telecommunication systems repairs, production and export of smart cards, aviation industry spare parts, and procuring software and hardware for related industries.
Since its inception, Amir Hossein Rafqdoust has been its board chairman and Mona Rafiqdoust its vice chairman. The company’s CEO, Rahim Bana Molayi, heads the Alborz Chamber of Commerce.
Amir Hossein Rafqdoust was also the board chairman of two similar companies: Mojriyan Ertebatat Faran and Ertebatat Kouh Nour Kish. Amir Hossein represented the interests of Nour Foundation on the board of both companies.
- Anamis Steel and Rolling Mill
Saeed Rafiqdoust has been the board chairman of this company since its inception and Navid Rafiqdoust (Saeed’s son) is its current CEO.
- In a 2008 interview with Shahrvand Emrouz, Rafiqdoust says Mohammad Beheshti was the one who told him to go to Abbas-Abad Garrison and help establish the IRGC. Upon arriving at the garrison, he joined a handful of other revolutionaries. He recounts, “I wrote on a piece of paper: the IRGC is hereby established by 1- Mohsen Rafiqdoust.”
- A paramilitary force tasked with patrolling the streets to enforce Islamic codes of dress and behaviour and dispatch impromptu justice to perceived enemies of the 1979 Revolution. During Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s first term as president, Iran’s police, gendarmerie, and revolution committees were merged to create Iran’s new police force.
- Before his death, Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani headed the Assembly of Experts, which oversees the office of the supreme leader. Mahdavi Kani’s older brother is Mohammad Baqer Baqeri Kani whose son Mesbaholhoda is married to Ali Khamaeni’s daughter Hoda.
- Ala Mir-Mohammad Sadeqi is also a merchant of cement, textiles, and dried fruits and nuts.
- The MoU says Etrat Fatemi will continue its work in helping the needy Sadat and AQR will do the same.
- These charities include: Enfaq Sols Charity, the Association of Charities Supporting the Expansion of Seminaries, and the Iranian Anti-Tobacco Association.
- He died of Covid-19 in November 2020.
- The trustees of the Iranian Anti-Tobacco Association include Khamenei relative Mahmoud Lolachian, Khamenei chief-of-staff Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, cleric Mohsen Qarati, Ala Mir-Mohammad Sadeqi, and Khamenei adviser Ali Akbar Velayati as well as members of the Etrat Fatemi board of directors.
- Lolachian is the father-in-law of Ali Khamenei’s youngest son, Meysam.
- Hossein is Ala Mir-Mohammad Sadeqi’s son and has served as legal affairs deputy for both the Majles and Expediency Council. He replaced Mohsen Rezaei’s brother Omidvar Rezaei as Majles deputy for legal affairs. It should be noted that, unlike his successor, Omidvar Rezaei did not have the relevant academic credentials for this position as he is a neurologist.
- Mahdaviat is a Shia religious term referring to the belief in the Mahdi, the 12th Shia Imam, who is considered to be the savior of the world or the Messiah.
- Firouzabadi is an ophthalmologist and had no military experience before he was appointed as the chief of staff of the Armed Forces by Ali Khamenei. The supreme leader also granted him the title of major general in 1995. He once claimed that Iran’s enemies used lizards to spy on the country’s nuclear program.
- Ala Mir-Mohammad Sadeqi’s son.
- Aberoumand is one of the individuals connected to the 13 trillion toman embezzlement scandal involving a number of BTS executives/ IRGC commanders including Massoud Mehrdadi, Eisa Sharifi (Qalibaf deputy when he was mayor), and Mahmoud Seif aka Mohsen Sajadinia. On March 17, 2021, these commanders all received prison sentences, ranging from two to 30 years in length. Aberoumand was not punished in connection with the case. After rumors recently spread that he had received a reduction in rank for his role in the embezzlement case, on April 7, the IRGC denied that such a demotion had taken place.
- An Instagram story she posted in 2018 captioned “Justin Beiber’s pool party time” made headlines in Persian-language media websites based in the diaspora.
- When it started out in 2017, Nasim Airline had one Boeing 737 that had flown its maiden voyage in 1992. It is currently Isfahan’s dedicated airline.
- The Bank Mellat case is related to an embezzlement case involving the former CEO of the bank Ali Divandari. Divandari is also one of the defendants in another embezzlement case tied to Akbar Tabari, the deputy of former judiciary chief Sadeq Amoli Larijani.
- Public records show that the company was established in 1351 (1972), but it has a total of only three public ads after 1397 (2018).
- Behnan Gandom Novin is a food company but its board members are all BTS oil and gas companies.
- Dorri-Najafabadi was the attorney general in 2009 when protestors were tried en masse without having access to legal counsel. He was intelligence minister at the time of the serial killings of intellectuals and resigned in their aftermath. Dorri-Najafabadi used an Islamic law, which allows one to swear to God to prove innocence, to exonerate himself from any involvement in the serial killings. He is currently a member of the Expediency Council.
- Mostafa Science and Technology Bonyad was created in April 2018 and sponsors the Mostafa Award with the aim of creating a network that connects Muslim scholars and scientists.
- In Iranian business structures, a corporate inspector oversees the work of the board members, can inspect the company’s financial books, and has a say in the company’s financial decisions.
- Some of the revolutionaries at the school tried to prevent the executions, asking Khomeini to intervene. According to an interview published by the Tarikh Irani website, Khomeini asked Khalkhali if he was going to reconsider the death sentences he gave to the 30 individuals. Khalkhali responded, “If I execute them and God returns them to life a 1,000 times over, I will execute them over and over again.” Khomeini smiled and said, “In that case, only execute four of them here and transfer the rest of them to Qasr Prison.” Khalkhali writes in his memoirs that he worked tirelessly until he was able to execute the rest of the prisoners.
- Mona Rafiqdoust is married to Mahmoud Mohtashamipour, who is Mostafa Tazjadeh’s brother-in-law.
This post is also available in: فارسی (Persian)