Former head of IRIB Mohammad Sarfaraz and his aide Shahrzad Mirqolikhan in a grab image of Sarafraz’s online interview disclosing corruption in IRGC. (YouTube)

May 3, 2019

The former head of Iran’s State TV Mohammad Sarafraz has accused IRGC Intelligence Organization of obstructing attempts to counter financial corruption.

Sarafraz who was appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the head of the state TV in October 2014, resigned in May 2016 over a controversy created after his special inspector was allegedly told by IRGC Intelligence to leave the country or face detention as a “spy”.

Sarafraz made the controversial comment in an interview with Abdolreza Davari, a former conservative journalist and adviser to former ultraconservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The 55-minute video was published on YouTube and other platforms on Tuesday May 1.

Also present in the interview via a link to Oman, was Shahrzad Mirqolikhan, Sarafraz’s special inspector at the state TV, who was arrested in 2007 and jailed in the United States until 2012 on charges of purchasing night vision equipment for Iran.

During the past two years, Ahmadinejad and his aides have repeatedly criticized IRGC Intelligence Organization and its chief Hossein Taeb.

Sarafraz said in the interview that Taeb and three IRGC officers including Mirqolikhan’s former husband in 2014 blocked the reforms he was planning to introduce at the State TV organization by trying to fraudulently win tender bids made for various projects including a $9 million data center on which the state TV had also invested 500 billion rials in Iranian currency (about $15.5 million at the time), as well as an IPTV project worth $515 million.

He alleged that former Labor Minister Ali Rabiei, an ex-intelligence officer, colluded with Taeb to win the tender bid for companies affiliated with the IRGC Intelligence Organization.

According to Sarafraz and Mirqolikhan, IRGC Intelligence forced Mirqolikhan to leave Iran as part of their tactics to win the contracts.

The three intelligence officers including Mirqolikhan’s ex-husband stopped working for IRGC Intelligence’s financial holdings at least as of 2017-2018. According to U.S. Treasury reports, Mirqolikhan’s husband Mahmoud Seyf was involved in military purchases for Iran as well as importing banknote forgery equipment from Europe.

Two of the officers, Jamal Aberoumand and Massoud Mehrdadi were apparently fired by IRGC in 2017 after their involvement in financial corruption, involving billions of dollars, became known. Reformist figures including former presidential aide Abdollah Ramezanzadeh have disclosed the circumstances surrounding this episode.

Other unconfirmed reports say all three officers have left Iran. According to Sarafraz the three officers operated in a network run by IRGC Intelligence Chief Taeb.

It appears that Taeb’s opponents are now focusing their pressures on the three officers and their link to Taeb in order to weaken the latter’s position.

During the interview, Shahrzad Mirqolikhan who has previously written a book about her detention in Europe and the U.S., said she was writing a new book about her ex-husband’s activities. This new book could be the next step in the complicated intelligence campaign against IRGC Intelligence Organization.

Meanwhile, Sarafraz said two other things in the interview, but did not present any proof. He implicated former President Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani in providing intelligence for the United States, and said Iran will be going to war with America by the end of Ramadan [first week of June]. He did not mention any source or evidence for the accusation against Rafsanjani and the questionable prediction about an upcoming war.

RFE/RL

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Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.