Embezzlement of $1.4 billion by the members of the Iranian regime who own the Haft Tappeh sugarcane factory in Khuzestan while workers’ salaries remain unpaid
Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company is located 14 km from Shush city and has factories as well as 24,000 hectares of goods land on the banks of the Dez River in Khuzestan Province, south-western Iran. The company was handed over to Omid Asadbeigi and Mehrdad Rostami, 28 and 31 years old respectively, at a 2015 auction with a down payment of only 6 billion tomans. The price and manner of this transfer and the qualifications of these two young men were in a state of ambiguity from the very beginning and indicated the beginning of a major case of government corruption and plundering.
After the transfer of the company, in recent years, the name of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane has always been associated with protests and strikes by its workers.
According to reports from inside the country, all workers in the “Agriculture, Factory, Livestock, Mechanical, Administrative and Infrastructure” sections of the factory have been on strike since June 15, 2020. “On June 16, 2020, about 800 workers from different parts of the company again protested in the industrial area of the company due to non-payment of their salaries and claims and uncertainty about their job status.”
Another report by the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Workers Union on the cause of the workers’ protest and strike also mentioned the conditional release of the Haft Tappeh factory’s CEO. Omid Asadbeigi, CEO of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane, was detained earlier this month on a so-called court order, but was released on parole shortly afterward to pay off his alleged debts.
The Workers Union also reported that the Khuzestan Provincial Security Council had given Asadbeigi a “license” to pay workers’ arrears with delay and wrote at the end of his report: “If people like Asadbeigi grow up in this country, the result of the transaction between the executive bodies; security; judicial and regulatory, such as the parliament and the country’s inspectorate, are like that. “The reason is the underwater shouting of the Haft Tappeh sugarcane workers, who not only can’t get their voices heard, but are also imprisoned and fired.”
The background to this case
Omid Asadbeigi is the first defendant in the Haft Tappeh case. A young man born in 1987, his list of financial allegations during his tenure in one of the country’s largest industrial complexes is astonishing. Omid Asadbeigi is accused of corruption. He received $1.4 billion in government currency to spend on Haft Tappeh Sugar Company but sold the currency on the open market.
A glance at the corruption in this company and the role of high-ranking officials
Fars State-run News Agency reported on May 21, 2020, that the name of Gholamreza Shariati, the governor of Khuzestan, had been raised in the court of disruption of the country’s currency and monetary system. The charge of smuggling major currencies and unauthorized currency transactions, in this case, amounted to more than $1.4 billion, which is listed in several sections.
According to the regime’s prosecutor’s representative in the first court hearing, in only one instance of this large-scale currency violation, the defendants Asadbeigi and Rostami, in collaboration with another person named Kahalzadeh and Motamed Parseh company, transferred about $600 million to launch the 18,000 production line. But they signed a $14 million contract to buy a second-hand production line. Even the $14 million production line has never been imported.
In one of the cases against the governor of Khuzestan, the regime’s investigator stated that during the investigation, Omid Asadbeigi said that he had spent money on the trip by the Khuzestan governor and his family abroad, which is in the file. During the trial, Asadbeigi stated that Gholamreza Shariati, the governor of Khuzestan, supported him well.
Shariati has a direct role in suppressing strikes and popular protests. He is complicit in the November 2019 massacre of the Khuzestan people, and especially the killing of protesters in the reeds of Mahshahr.
According to the Fars state-run news agency on June 17, 2020, in Shush, some workers say that non-payment of salaries and efforts to close the company by its owners is an attempt to influence the process of large-scale currency smuggling trial.
The role of high-ranking regime officials in the $1.4 billion corruption case of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company is so apparent that even the issue of the suspicious transfer of this large company with a small amount to two young people affiliated with the regime, in the war between the gangs within the regime, in the mullahs’ parliament has also been raised. According to the state-run website Shushan, the representative of the regime’s parliament from Shush named Mohammad Kaab Omair said in a meeting of the parliament on June 11, 2020, addressed to the president of the regime, Hassan Rouhani: Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company, one of the largest sugar production industries with more than 5,000 workers and 2,000 seasonal workers, played an essential role in the production cycle in Khuzestan province. The qualification was handed over in November 2015 through a highly dubious auction backed by individual support from Vice President Ishaq Jahangiri, which eventually led to the industrial collapse.
This is only a small part of the pervasive corruption in the mullahs’ regime in Iran. In a country where more than 60 million people live below the poverty line, large state-owned companies and mines are being handed over to individuals backed by regime officials to plunder more and more of the Iranian people’s property. Meanwhile, for consecutive months, the meager salaries of workers, employees, retirees, nurses, and teachers have not been paid, and many workers, nurses, and teachers are constantly threatened with dismissal.
As long as this corrupt and repressive regime is ruling in Iran, there will only be an increase in poverty and corruption in the country. Only by changing this regime and establishing freedom, democracy, and justice, will this nightmare of poverty, corruption, and repression end.