The late president’s youngest son and his wife, Maryam Salari, are at the heart of an extensive business network
The late statesman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was both a founder and a victim of the kleptocratic system at the heart of the Islamic Republic. A shrewd strategist who was at once a man of the people and a ruthless elitist, his presidency, from 1989 to 1997, gave rise to the clannish power networks and corrupt institutions that continue to paralyze Iran’s economy.
The lack of comprehensive public business records from the Rafsanjani era make tracing his family’s role in Iran’s economy difficult, but Rafsanjani was a dedicated diary keeper and one of the few IRI officials to publish annual memoirs until his suspicious death in 2017.
These memoirs, augmented by our research into current business records and whistleblower interviews, offer a wealth of information about the Rafsanjani clan’s relationships with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and other top decision makers, family scandals, and pivotal events that took place behind closed doors and were never shared with the nation.
In this series, Tehran Bureau provides an in-depth look at the Rafsanjani family’s business interests. Part one examined the network of Mohsen Hashemi, Rafsanjani’s oldest son. Now, in part two, we turn to the youngest of Rafsanjani’s three sons, Yaser Hashemi, along with his wife, Maryam Salari, and her family connections.
Yaser was one of his father’s chiefs of staff at the Expediency Council. After Rafsanjani’s death, Yaser’s office was sealed shut and he was effectively purged from the EC. Yaser was reportedly also chief of staff of Azad University’s board of trustees. Rafsanjani’s archived website states that Yaser was once in the business of cheese imports.
According to a 2003 article in Forbes, “Yaser owns a 30-acre horse farm in the super fashionable Lavasan neighborhood of north Tehran, where land goes for over $4 million an acre. Just where did Yaser get his money? A Belgian-educated businessman, he runs a large export-import firm that includes baby food, bottled water and industrial machinery.”
Yasser’s business interests include:
1. Raha Mehr Vatan Charity
Established in September 2019, Raha Mehr Vatan describes itself as a “non-political, not-for-profit, and non-governmental institute” that is focused on “healthcare.” The company’s board of directors consists of:
- Yaser Hashemi – CEO and board chairman
- Maryam Salari (wife) – vice chairman
- Leili Hashemi (daughter) – board member
- Mahmoud Salari (father-in-law; see “The Salaris,” below) – alternate board member
- Massoud Khalili – board member
Khalili was one of the founders of Iranian Equestrian Industry Co. and represented the interests of the Equestrian Federation of Iran on its board of directors (note Yaser’s horse farm mentioned in the Forbes article cited above).
- Mahmoud Yazdi – treasurer, board member
Yazdi is a long-time business partner involved in various Yaser Hashemi/Maryam Salari companies.
- Davoud Soleimani – inspector
Soleimani is connected to various other businesses linked to Yaser Hashemi’s family (see below). He is also the CEO of a travel agency called Shajareh Taneem that operates Haj tours.
- Soraya Marashi (relative) – alternate inspector
2. Sanati Tolidi Moratab
Yaser Hashemi was the vice chairman of Sanati Tolidi Moratab in 2007 and represented the interests of the Ahrar Markazi Institute on its board of directors.
Established on October 7, 1957, Tolidi Moratab was the official dealer of Land Rovers in Iran and later launched an assembly line to produce the car in the country. The company was nationalized after the 1979 Revolution. Approximately 62 percent of the company’s shares are now owned by Ahrar Markazi Institute, which was established on January 23, 1994, to financially empower former POWs and war veterans, who are also its shareholders. Members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) serve as the institute’s executives. In addition to Sanati Tolidi Moratab and other companies, Ahrar owns various properties and land across the country.
On November 29, 2014, a meeting of Ahrar shareholders and the board of directors led to a group of shareholders airing their grievances to the media. By their account, Ahrar was operating without any supervision from Bonyad Shahid, the para-governmental foundation that is supposed to exercise oversight over veterans’ affairs. Shareholders, they asserted, were kept in the dark about the way the institute was run, its subsidiaries, and its finances, and they had yet to receive their requisite dividends. On February 13, 2015, Ahrar’s shareholders finally lodged a complaint with the General Inspection Organization of Iran (GIO). No updates regarding this complaint have been released.
3. Tehran Airline (fka Safat Airline)
This airline is also a subsidiary of the Ahrar Markazi Institute. It operated both passenger and cloud-seeding flights but lost its permit in 2013. The company still exists and changed its name from Safat to Tehran Airline in April 2018.
In 2006, Yaser was the board chairman of Safat Airline.
4. SCCV Rubis
Public records show that Yaser’s SCCV Rubis, headquartered in Évian, France, lists his wife, Maryam Salari, and their daughter, Leili, as partners along with his nephew Alireza. Public documents also show one Ali Bahmanpour as affiliated with the building construction company, which was established in 2017.
In addition to sitting on the board of Raha Mehr Vatan Charity (see above), Maryam Salari is connected to several travel and trade companies:
Established on May 10, 2010, the company’s articles of incorporation state that it is a “general contracting company for construction work, electrical work curbing and gutter services, air duct installation, residential, commercial and institutional cleaning services, catering and meal distribution services, and import-export of all legal products.”
However, according to its website, Parvaz Sharq Pasargad has over a “decade of successful experience in aviation and tourism and has been active in marketing, sales, and travel agency and airport services.” This change of charter has not been reflected in public records.
Maryam is the current board chairman of the company and its one-time CEO. Her brothers, Reza and Mohammad Salari, have both served on its board as vice chairmen.
Other current and former board members of Parvaz Sharq Pasargad include:
- Mahmoud Yazdi – current vice chairman
Yazdi is also the treasurer of Raha Mehr Vatan Charity and the vice chairman of another company called Paranedeh Sefid Kahkeshan, which “obtains visas, operates domestic and international tours,” and engages in “travel ticket sales, hotel reservations, and any other activity directly or indirectly related to passenger transportation.”
- Abtin Yazdi – current CEO
He is a board member in Paranedeh Sefid Kahkeshan (see above) and the vice chairman of a Kahkeshan Rah Parvaz Travel Agency.
- Naser Khedrnejad – current board member; former CEO
Khedrnejad is connected to various companies owned by Minoo Industrial Group such as Qassem Iran and Persuisse Export Co. Minoo itself is owned by Azadegan Co., a conglomerate similar to the Ahrar Markazi Institute (see above) in its declared mission to empower war veterans and former POWs. He is also on the board of several travel agencies dedicated to religious tours and pilgrimage services.
- Saeed Ohadi – former board member
In 2007, Ohadi was board chairman of Sanati Tolidi Moratab (see above) and served on its board of directors along with Yaser Hashemi. Ohadi is a long-time executive of companies belonging to both Azadegan Co. and Ahrar Markazi Institute.
2. Airsa Vision Parsian
This company was established on July 14, 2013, to “conduct trade activities including procurement, production and distribution, import-export and offering after-sales services,” “customs services,” “project management,” “obtaining loans and lines of credit,” and “commission work.” In April 2016, Airsa Vision Parsian’s charter was amended and it became a “cleaning company” before it was dissolved in early November 2017.
Maryam Salari was one of its founders and a vice chairman.
Other executives included:
- Davoud Soleimani – CEO
Soleimani was also the founding board of Raha Mehr Vatan Charity as inspector. Soleimani is linked to several other travel agencies specializing in pilgrimage and religious tourism.
- Hamed Hashemi (relative) – board chairman
He is on the board of at least one other company connected to Yaser Hashemi and Maryam Salari’s network (see below). Hamed Hashemi and Sima Farshchi (also a board member) established an import-export company on Qashem Island called Maysa Sanaat Jonob Qashem.
- Mohammad Salari (see above) – dissolution manager
3. Ira Anahita Asanbar
Established in January 2017, this company “offers elevator repairs and maintenance” in addition to the “purchase, sales, distribution, production, packaging, import-export and after-sales services of any and all legal products,” “holding seminars,” “obtaining loans and lines of credit from domestic and international banks and credit institutions,” and “customs services.”
Maryam Salari is the company’s vice chairman. Other executives include:
- Hamed Hashemi – board chairman
- Sima Farshchi – board member
- Mohammad Reza Navaei – alternate inspector
Navaei is connected to an oil swap company, Otana Energy, which is part of a larger network of oil swap firms.
Asra Parvaz is a travel agency that, according to its website, was founded in 2003 to “plan and operate tours of European countries” and “initially operated cultural tours for students and university professors” before expanding its travel packages due to increasing demand. In February 2017, Asra Parvaz amended its charter to include “all electronic air travel services such as e-tickets.”
Public records show that when Asra Parvaz’s owners registered “Eavar” as their official brand, 50 percent of the company was owned by Fara Sanaat Pasargad Iranian Engineers, which according to its website is the official representative for Philips Monitors.
Maryam Salari has been a board member since January 2013 and has held positions such as board chairman and vice chairman. Other members of her and Yaser Hashemi’s network have also served on Asra Pravz’s board of directors, including:
- Azad Yousef Zamani – board chairman
Yousef Zamani has been on the board of Asra Parvaz since 2007. He was previously on the board of Parvaz Sharq Pasargad, another company linked to Yaser Hashemi’s wife and her relatives. Azad Zamani is connected to several other travel companies, including Khadamati Shirin Safar Qarreh Sabz (Green Continent Sweet Travel Services), where he is the board chairman. Despite bearing the name of a travel agency, according to its articles of incorporation Khadamati Shirin Safar Qarreh Sabz is a “trade company” involved in “import-export,” “participates in public and private tenders,” and offers “management and business consulting services.” Public records show that Asra Parvaz is an equity partner in Khadamati Shirin Safar Qarreh Sabz.
- Ali Kavezadeh – CEO and board member
Kavezadeh has been on the board of Asra Parvaz since 2013 and previously held the position of vice chairman. Kavezadeh is the current vice chairman of Khadamati Shirin Safar Qarreh Sabz’s board of directors.
5. Jahan Web Gostar Parsian
Established on September 7, 2010, Jahan Web Gostar Parsian provides “computer hardware and equipment services, including system assembly and upgrades, installs computer networks, offers after-sales services and imports-exports any and all computer parts and equipment.”
In April 2012, Jahan Web Gostar Parsian’s board consisted of:
- Maryam Salari – board member and equity partner
She remained an equity partner and board member until March 2016.
- Seyyed Amir Reza Hashemi Golpayegani – equity partner and vice chairman
Golpayegani is also an equity partner and board chairman of Paranedeh Sefid Kahkeshan (see above), along with Abtin and Mahmoud Yazdi. Amir Reza is the son of Mohammad Reza Hashemi Golpayegani, minister of science, research, and technology in Rafsanjani’s second administration.
- Mohsen Mozafari – board chairman
Mozaffari is also on the board of Parvaz Sharq Pasargad and several other travel companies connected to Azad Yousef Zamani (see above).
- Farid Dalaei – founding board member, equity partner, and CEO
Several of Dalaei’s family members are affiliated with Jahan Web Gostar Parsian. Dalaei himself is connected to Parvaz Sharq Pasargad, another of the Salari-Hashemi businesses.
The Salaris (Yaser Hashemi’s in-laws)
Azra Marashi—sister of Efat Marashi, Rafsanjani’s wife—married Abdolkarim Salari and together they had four children: Mohammad, Mahmoud, Malakeh, and Mahin. Mahmoud Salari himself has had at least four children: Maryam (now Yaser Hashemi’s wife), Neda, Reza, and Mohammad.
- Mahmoud Salari is an alternate member of Raha Mehr Vatan Charity’s board of directors.
- Reza Salari (son) is vice chairman of Parvaz Sharq Pasargad (see above). He was also one of the founding members and chairman of Fashafouyeh Water Ski’s board of directors. While Fashafouyeh Water Ski is dedicated to water sports and recreation, the company’s article’s of incorporation enables it to “import-export any and all legal products including sports equipment” and “ope[n] sports clubs.”
- Mohammad Salari (son) is a board member and one-time vice chairman of Parvaz Sharq Pasargad (see above). He is the dissolution manager for Airsa Vision Parsian (see above). He was an equity partner and vice chairman of Fashafouyeh Water Ski’s board of directors.
- Mahmoud Salari  (cousin) is on the founding board of Ali Abad Sadat Cultural Charity along with other members of the extended Marashi family.
Other individuals connected to the Salaris via their companies include:
Shahriyar Shahir Barzegar, the CEO of Fashafouyeh Water Ski’s at its founding. He leveraged this company to personally accompany the Islamic Republic’s ski teams in the 2014 Olympics as “manager,” according to his website. He also credits himself as being the father of “principled franchising” in the country as the founder of the Hoopoe salons for men. He is also the board chairman of the Shana Caspian of Anzali Free Trade Zone, an import-export company involved in “medical, hospital and laboratory equipment imports.”
Changiz Shakouri, one-time CEO and equity partner in Fashafouyeh Water Ski. He was recently appointed political deputy to the superintendent of Masal County, Gilan Province. He previously held executive positions in Talesh County and Astara County, the latter of which is on Iran’s crucial trade border with the Caucasus. His daughter Tanya is also an equity partner in Fashafouyeh Water Ski.
- The couple are first cousins once removed: Maryam Salari is the daughter of Mahmoud Salari, son of Azra Marashi, who is the sister of Efat Marashi, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s wife. Maryam Salari is also a cousin of Azam Hashempour, Mohsen Hashemi’s wife.
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