The head of a wealthy, state-sponsored charity in Iran has apologized Wednesday for his controversial and revealing remarks earlier naming officials who received real estate holdings by orders of the Supreme Leader.
The revelations by Parviz Fattah, appointed by Khamenei as head of the Mostazafan (oppressed) Foundation led to widespread public outcry about the inherently corrupt practice of granting what amounts to state property to political loyalists of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Days later, Fattah apologized saying his remarks were "mistaken" "imprecise" faulty" and "fraudulent", the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRFGC)-linked news agency reported on Wednesday, August 19. A video of him speaking to a reporter was also published on social media, leading to accusations that he was pressured to disown his own words.
Meanwhile, he insisted that naming the individuals involved in the case was to assert that the foundation is seriously attempting to retain the properties given away to the Islamic Republic authorities.
Earlier in a show on the monopolized state-run TV, Fattah had lambasted several senior political and executive figures in the Islamic Republic for refusing to return the properties controlled by the foundation.
The Mostazafan Foundation of Islamic Revolution was established in 1979 as a successor to the Pahlavi Foundation, a cultural and social welfare institution, launched during the reign of Iran's pro-West king, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Its primary mission was assisting Iranian students to study in the European and American universities.
However, the Islamic successor of the Pahlavi foundation acquired most of its wealth initially by confiscating valuable properties from the pre-revolution economic and political elite as well as minorities such as Jews and Baha’is.
Associated with the IRGC, the foundation controls nearly 200 manufacturing and industrial companies in Iran. Its profits, the foundation's officials maintain, is used to promote "the living standards of the disabled and poor individuals" of Iran and "develop general public awareness with regards to history, books, museums, and cinema."
Furthermore, the tax-exempt foundation and the "confiscated" properties it controls are directly supervised by the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Most of the properties belong to the Iranians who were either executed, imprisoned, or fled Iran after the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979.
One of the major lands confiscated by the so-called Islamic revolutionaries belonged to an 84-year-old retired Major General, Iraj Matbuee, who was executed by a firing squad immediately after the Shah's downfall. The mausoleum of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-89), is built on the confiscated land owned by Matbuee's family.
During the TV show, Fattah named a former Speaker of Majles (Islamic Consultative Assembly or Iranian parliament), Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, as one of the Islamic Republic officials involved in grabbing confiscated properties. Haddad Adel, Fattah divulged, owns a two-trillion rials (about $47.5 million) school on a confiscated land previously under the foundation's control and should return it.
The father of Khamenei's son-in-law, Haddad Adel, is currently a senior aide to the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader.
According to the head of the foundation, the former president of the Islamic Republic, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Islamic Parliament Research Center (IPRC), the regular army's Navy, and the Guardian Corps, which is responsible for protecting the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, also own confiscated properties but do not return it.
Nevertheless, most of the officials and institutions have dismissed Parviz Fattah's remarks as unfounded, emphasizing that the listed properties were given to them with the permission of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic.
Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel released a video last Tuesday, sharply criticizing Fattah's remarks, calling his revelations "propaganda" and "gaining prestige" and saying that the property in question was given to him with the permission and wishes of the Supreme Leader.
However, critics on social media took issue with this argument, saying that giving away public property is in fact corruption and officials in Iran are so deeply involved in cronyism that they do not even realize resorting to Khamenei’s wishes as a reason to grab property is wrong.
58-year-old Sayyid Parviz Fattah is an Iranian conservative politician, former member of the IRGC, and former minister of energy in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's first cabinet from 2005 to 2009. He is the former head of the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation from 2015 to 2019.