The Revolutionary Guards: An Introduction
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is the Islamic Republic of Iran’s most important institution. The military-security institution commands huge influence in every aspect of Iranian public life, from culture and the environment to the economy, politics and judicial process. Whatever the field or area, the IRGC is not required to report to anybody and is answerable to no one.
The IRGC was created early after the 1979 Islamic Revolution by the order of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Its declared mission was to safeguard the revolution and its accomplishments. As the years have gone by, it has expanded its sphere of activities. The entities under its control have multiplied to such a degree that it now operates effectively as a parallel government. It interferes in all current affairs of the country and it aims to have control over every aspect of the way Iran is run.
In a series of reports, IranWire presents a detailed portrait of this powerful and mysterious institution and, for the first time, identifies and explains all bodies, institutions and other entities operating under the umbrella of the Revolutionary Guards, at the same time outlining its activities through an infographic and an interactive diagram.
The infographic is a visual representation of the Guards’ organizational structure and presents all institutions under the control of IRGC in one map. It resembles a family tree, a portrait of the IRGC with all its children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren — a dramatic picture of power in Iran today.
In the interactive diagram, the viewer is able to use the mouse to see how various entities under the control of the Guards emerged, and how they are connected — exactly like a family tree.
IranWire has aimed for this series and the overall project to be informative and a solid research tool. But it is not perfect, and there will always be room for updates, enhancements and further information. We welcome your views, ideas and knowledge, so please do get in touch via email, Twitter or Facebook.
IRGC Cooperative Foundation(Bonyad-e Ta’avon-e Sepah)
The IRGC Cooperative Foundation was established on August 23, 1986. According to its statute, the organization is a non-profit entity run by its board of trustees under the supervision of the IRGC. The board of trustees is appointed by the Supreme Leader. Moreover, if the organization wants to establish new franchises outside the country, the Supreme Leader’s approval is required.
The foundation’s mission is stated as “offering the IRGC’s permanent personnel financial loans, mortgages, business loans, and also providing land and construction materials for them.”
The foundation (until December 2014) was tax exempt. It is banned from any involvement in military affairs and its revenue is only spent on providing the IRGC and Basij cadre with housing. The foundation’s income includes revenue from manufacturing, construction and commercial projects, joint operations with other organizations, as well as financial help from the IRGC, loans and donations from banks, and donations by the public.
According to the statute, the foundation’s capital and properties belong to the Supreme Leader and, in the case of the foundation’s liquidation, these will be handed over to him after the payment of the foundation’s debts. The statute of the foundation was ratified in May 1993 and confirmed by the Supreme Leader.
Board of Trustees
The director of the board is the chief commander of the IRGC. In addition, other members are the Supreme Leader’s representative in the IRGC, the Basij commander, commanders of the IRGC Navy, Ground and Aerospace Forces, the head of the IRGC Intelligence Protection Agency, and one more high-ranking IRGC officer, who is the representative of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The board's recommendations for changing the statute, policies, opening branches outside Iran, as well as cancellation or liquidation of the foundation, need the Supreme Leader’s confirmation. The board is in charge of appointing a five-member executive committee, the CEO and the inspectors. They also monitor the foundation's performance and review the budget and prepare annual income statements and, in all instances, report back to the Supreme Leader.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
The CEO of the IRGC Cooperative Foundation is the highest-ranking official, and is recommended by the Executive Committee and confirmed by the Board of Trustees. His tenure is two years. The appointment is officially declared by the chief commander of the IRGC, as the head of the board of trustees. He also appoints the deputy director of the foundation.
Reach of Operations
The IRGC Cooperative Foundation is involved in a wide variety of projects including housing, telecommunications, car manufacturing, banking, agriculture, food, and mining. The foundation has 24 units or branches of housing cooperative companies in all 31 provinces of Iran.
The foundation’s most significant financial institution is Ansar Bank. The foundation is also one of the major shareholders of Mehr Eqtesad Bank and the financial institution of Samen-al-Aeme. In the telecommunications field, the most important subsidiary is Shahriar Mahestan Co.
In housing, its subsidiaries are Shahabsang Industrial Mining Co. and Iranians of Atlas Co.
In banking, its subsidiaries are Negin Khatam Investing Co., Tose-e Etemad Mobin Co., Ansar Bank, and Ansar Exchange.
Other major subsidiaries are Warriors’ Housing Jihad Co, and Dastvareh Logistics and Training Institute.
In addition, the Cooperative Foundation (Bonyad-e Ta’avon-e Sepah) and the Khatam-al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters own and run luxury hotels — a remit that may appear to be at odds with the traditional values of the Revolutionary Guards, but which demonstrates how shrewd it has become when it comes to business matters and generating wealth.
It is impossible to accurately evaluate the foundation’s activities. It has been subjected to US sanctions since 2010, and the foundation’s managers constantly trade major stocks, relocate and rename subsidiaries, and establish new companies - mainly in order to remain anonymous and bypass the sanctions.
Y.A.S. Financial Holdings, a major partner of the foundation, was accused of corruption and went bankrupt after it was sued for 130 trillion Iranian rials. It is almost impossible to find out what has happened to most companies owned by Y.A.S. Holdings since the conglomerate went bankrupt.
The following is the list of subsidiaries and companies that are linked with the IRGC Cooperative Foundation:
Ansar Bank: Originally it was known as Ansar al-Mojahedin No-Interest Loan Institute (Sandogh-e Gharz al-Hassaneh-ye Ansar al-Mojahedin) and was tasked with providing no-interest loans to its veterans and active duty Basij members. The Institute became a subsidiary of the IRGC Cooperative Foundation in 1986. It was transformed to the Ansar Bank in 2007, in the view of the central bank concern about the institute’s lack of financial accountability. According to its website, the bank has six hundred and seventy branches across Iran. The bank’s stated mission is to foster suitable environment for competition, encourage saving and investment, protect investors right, and to promote economic development and growth.
Warriors’ Housing Jihad: The company is a contractor in construction based in Tehran. The shareholder of this company is Shahbsang Company which is owned by the IRGC Cooperative Foundation.
Iranian Atlas Company: It was founded in 1986 as Iran Atlas business and Industrial company with the aim of business, industrial and manufacturing operations. Since 2005, the company expanded its activities in construction of residential, public and business buildings and complexes and investment in construction industry. The company’s main shareholder is the Ansar Bank which is affiliated with the IRGC Cooperative Foundation. The Company is a main contractor in Atlas Mall project. The Company has also been contractor in partnership with Khatam- al-Anbiya Headquarters in Haqani Metro project.
Tose-e Etemad Mobin Company: Established in 2004 as Tose-e Etemad Investment Company. The company is a subsidiary of the IRGC Cooperative Foundation specializing in telecommunications. In 2009, the company formed the Etemade Mobin Consortium with the IRGC’s other subsidiary Shahriar Mahestan and together with Iran Mobin Electronic Development Company, a subsidiary of the Executive Headquarters of Imam’s directives, purchased a 51 percent share of the Telecommunication Company of Iran, worth more than the U.S. $8 billion. In October 2018, Iranian media reported that the IRGC Cooperative Foundation handed over its share in the Telecommunication Company of Iran and will step down as the shareholder of the Etemad Mobin Consortium. However, the media provided no details about this transfer of shares. It was reported that the Consortium will transfer its shares following the order by the joint armed forces.
Negin Khatam Investment Company: the company became one of the major shareholders of Ansar bank following the Bank’s handover of its shares to Tehran stock market in summer of 2011.
Novin Padideh Company: is a subsidiary of the Ansar Bank and it is active in the field of implementation and provision of services. These services include cleaning, catering, education, administrative affairs, engineering and security affairs. According to its website, the company saw increasing manpower in the view of expansion of Ansar Bank’s branches across the country.
Hafiz Samaneh Company: is a subsidiary of the Ansar bank. It was established in 2000 and began its activities such as designing systems and processes, audit, as well as analyzing and designing MIS software in government, commerce and contracting industries. Among the clients of the company are: Ansar Bank, Ghavanin Credit and Finance Institute, the IRGC Cooperative Foundation, Maede Food Industry Company, Imam Hussein University, Baqiat-Allah University, Baqiat-Allah Hospital and it's subsidiary clinics, Warriors’ Housing Jihad Company, Iranian Atlas Company, and its subsidiaries.
Shahriar Mahestan Investment Company: specializes in telecommunications. It partnered with Tose-e Etemad Investment Company in 2009, and along with Iran Mobin Electronic Development Company, a subsidiary of the Executive Headquarters of Imam’s directives, purchased more than 51 percent of the Telecommunication Company of Iran, worth U.S.$8 billion. In October 2018, the Iranian media reported that the IRGC Cooperative Foundation handed over its shares in the Telecommunication Company of Iran and will step down as the shareholder of Etemad Mobin Consortium. However, the media provided no details about this transfer of shares. It was reported that the Consortium would transfer its share following the order by the joint armed forces.
Dastvareh Logistics and Training Institute: is owned by the Talie’e Sabzeh Jahan Company which is linked with the IRGC Cooperative Foundation.
Shahabsang Industrial Mining Company: was founded in 1991 and with the aim of exploring, extracting and processing minerals. It is one of the major suppliers of precious stones in the country. According to the company’s website, it supplies a major part of domestic and foreign markets’ demand by exploiting a number of great mines located in Iran’s provinces. This company is owned by the IRGC Cooperative Foundation and is also a shareholder of the Housing Jihad for Warriors Co.
Ansar Exchange Bank: was founded in 2012 with the aim of promoting international financial capacities and banking. It provides services for buying and selling foreign currencies, gold, silver and money transfer.
Ferdows Agriculture and Industry: is subsidiary of the IRGC Cooperative Foundation and is involved in poultry, fisheries, medicine, rice cultivation, fish and Turkeys breeding.
Samen Credit and Finance Institute: Founded in 1997. The ownership of the institute has been the source of a legal conflict between 900 members of the IRGC and the IRGC Cooperative Foundation since 2007. These members referred to their 51 representatives for arbitration in resolving the dispute between them and the Revolutionary Guards. But the IRGC, with the power of attorney which it had obtained, handed over the institute as one of the 46 companies under the Cooperative Foundation. The institute was believed to be bankrupt in 2018. This fact, along with the announcement of the institute’s merger with Kowsar Bank and Mehr Eqtesad Bank provoked a protest by the institute’s account holders asking for their money back. Subsequently, in 2018 the media announced the merger of the Samen Bank into Ansar Bank. This plan is undertaken by the central bank in order to deal with the banking crisis caused by the Credit and Finance Institute affiliated with the military and security forces.