My Mideast Punchlines: Grand Theft Caughto….

Reuters, the news agency, for which I worked in the mid-70s, has caught out the Iranians by blowing the lid on SETAD, Ayatollah Khamenei’s $95 billion business empire. Setad has become one of the most powerful organisations in Iran, though many Iranians, and the wider world, know very little about it. In the past six years, it has morphed into a business juggernaut, but now hold stakes in nearly every sector of uranium industry, including finance, oil, telecommunications, the production of birth control pills and even ostrich farming…

Through Setad, Khamenei has at his disposal, financial resources whose value rivals the holdings of the Shah, the Western backed monarch who was overthrown in 1979. How Setad came into those assets also mirrors how the deposed monarchy obtained much of its fortune – by confiscating real estate. The six-month Reuters investigation has found that Setad built its empire on the systematic seizure of thousands of properties belonging to ordinary Iranians: members of religious minorities like the Baha’is, as well as the Shi’ite Muslims, business people and Iranians living abroad.

Small FistNow before you start getting uppity. I’d like to mention another source of untold wealth based on confiscation, coercion and downright theft. Yes, you’ve guessed it,..the Vatican. But it’s okay, all they have to do is say a few Hail Mary’s and all is forgiven. Well, it’s better than all that hanging, stoning and beheading that the mad Mullahs get up to. And they don’t even pray for absolution, so don’t complain.

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