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The financial institutions behind one of Iran’s most secretive business networks

The death last year of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani brought global attention to the Quds Force, the elite IRGC unit he headed. Our previous investigation of Soleimani’s business network reveals that he and his comrades were sly businessmen who used their power and connections to found private business ventures subsidized by the civilian government. 

Here is a detailed overview of Resalat and Eqtesad Novin banks, the financial institutions behind one of Iran’s most secretive business networks.

Resalat Bank

Resalat Bank specializes in interest-free loans, or Qardh al-Hassan funds. Its charter allows it to create branches and conduct business abroad, and to accept representatives internationally. It continues to receive lucrative contracts involving bonyads and IRGC-affiliated entities.  

The bank has strong ownership links to Mola al-Movahedin Charity (MMC). This charitable organization, or bonyad, forms the heart of the Quds Force’s domestic economic activities.

Resalat Bank Shareholders

Tehran Stock Exchange data shows that Resalat has two corporate shareholders: Pouyesh Salehin Investment Holding (PSIH) and the Haj Ali Akbar Sanati Bonyad, which has MMC trustee Ali Mostafavi among its board members. Other shareholders include PSIH executives and their families and the families of MMC executives.

Eqtesad Novin Bank

Iran’s first private bank, Eqtesad Novin (EN), is among the country’s largest, with 1,087,543,247 million rials in assets last year, according to public records. Following the easing of Western sanctions on Iran in 2016, the bank was briefly in negotiations to set up a 25 million euro mutual fund with German banks. At the time, nonperforming loans comprised 16–17 percent of the bank’s assets, according to a 2016 investor handbook from Arqaam Capital, a Dutch consultancy. 

The bank is a limited liability partnership (LLP) owned by Stratus Holding. 

Stratus Holding and the Sadr Hasheminejads

The Sadr Hasheminejad family is an influential family who control Stratus Holding. This holding has several subsidiaries, including EN Bank, Iran Construction Investment Co., and Aluminum Pars Hanza. Stratus Holding has offices in Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkey (Stratus International Contracting Insaat ve Taahhut Anonim Sirketi, aka “Stratus Turkey”), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Venezuela, and Pakistan, and has carried out projects in these countries as well as in Yemen, Djibouti, Singapore, Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Libya, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, South Africa, Mali, Algeria, and Benin.

Sister companies with Quds Force links

EN Bank is linked to the Quds Force via its sister company Iran Construction Investment Co. The company controls Kerman Province Development and Improvement Co., which owns shares in a company called Aryan Mahtab Gostar. Mola al Movahedin Charity (MMC) has a 52 percent stake in Aryan Mahtab Gostar, which produces 4.5 percent of Iran’s electricity.

EN Bank is also linked to the Quds Force via another sister company, Aluminum Pars Hanza. MMC trustee Mohammad Javad Fadaei Fathabadi and MMC subsidiary Kerman Development Organization are both connected to Aluminum Pars Hanza. At one time, Mohammad Sadr Hasheminejad and Fadaei Fathabadi both served on the board of the company. While Fadaei Fathabadi is no longer on the board, MMC is still involved with the company via Kerman Development Organization and Omran Alavi Mahan Co.

This post is also available in: فارسی (Persian)

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