Eshagh Jahangiri, the Iranian president's first deputy, has declared that Ghasem Soleimani, the late commander of the IRGC's Quds Force, was circumventing sanctions to sell oil – and that he was the only one who could have done so.
In an interview with IRNA on Sunday, March 14, 2021, Jahangiri explained that the Anti-Sanctions Headquarters and the Ministry of Petroleum had authorized the covert sale of eight million barrels of oil, but had been unable to shift a single barrel.
"The only person who helped us, at one point,” he said, “was Commander Soleimani."
Ghasem Soleimani was assassinated in a US drone strike on his car at Baghdad Airport on January 3 last year. Since his death, the former head of the Revolutionary Guards’ foreign operations has been alleged to have been involved in an array of covert operations to bypass sanctions.
"Commander Soleimani,” Jahangiri added in the interview, “said in a meeting with those who claimed to be able to sell oil that none of them could sell oil.” He added that despite the risks Soleimani had been successful in arranging sales and repatriating some money to Iran.
The disclosure came months after Mahmoud al-Zahar, a leading member of Hamas, told Al-Alam – a television network owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) – that that he had personally received $22 million in cash stuffed into suitcases from Ghasem Soleimani.
“I explained to him our principal difficulties in paying wages, social security and other kinds of assistance to the people of Gaza. Haj Ghasem immediately responded to our request,” al-Zahar told Al-Alam. “The next day, the last day of our visit, I found 22 million dollars in suitcases at [Tehran] airport. We were due to receive more money, but the Hamas delegation consisted of nine members and we could not carry any more.”
Some former officials of the Islamic Republic have also alleged corruption on the part of Ghasem Soleimani’s wife, who is understood to have financed development projects. Morteza Alviri, a former mayor of Tehran and member of Tehran City Council, said he had submitted 12 instances of “serious violations” to the judiciary but they had not been pursued.