September 29, 2009

IRGC Buys Majority Share of Iran Telecom

The Etemad-e-Mobin consortium, which is reportedly connected to the Revolutionary Guard (though details are scarce about the exact nature of the relationship), bought a 50% plus one share of the Telecommunications Company of Iran on Sunday, worth $7.8 billion. Two of the three companies that comprise Etemad-e-Mobin are reportedly controlled by the IRGC.
The New York Times reports:

The telecom share sold Sunday is part of the government’s project to privatize sectors still in state hands. But reform-minded politicians, and even some conservatives, have complained that institutions affiliated with the ruling system are being awarded stakes in the privatized firms, while the private sector is left out.
…[IRGC] finances are not on the government budget, and are free from any state oversight. The guard is accountable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran.

The move extends the IRGC’s already tremendous influence across political, economic, and social spheres in Iranian society. It is said to control a large portion of the 70% or so of the Iranian economy that is state-run, which has enormous implications for US sanctions measures, given the IRGC’s skill at operating on the black market.

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