In my last post Habibollah Asgaroladi was named as the Iranian official involved in a recent Iran/NZ trade symposium held in Auckland.
This was probably a mistake, made by the Iranian news agency quoted.
Habibollah Asgaroladi is one of Iran’s richest and most most powerful men. Regarded as an extreme Islamic hardliner, Asgaroladi was secretary-general of the Islamic Coalition Party, an influential conservative political party.
He has been a government minister, an aide to Islamic Revolution Leader Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei and was this year he appointed to the government’s senior advisory body, System’s Interests Council the by Khamenei, alongside Mohammadi-Reyshahri.
Also a very powerful man, Asadollah Asgaroladi is concurrently head of the Iran/Russia and Iran/China Chambers of Commerce.
The Asgaroladi family appears to have gotten rich, the same way many New Zealanders did in the pre Rogernomics days-import licencing.
According to award winning US journalist Paul Klebnikov;
Until a few years ago the simplest way to get rich quick was through foreign-currency trades. Easy, if you could get greenbacks at the subsidized import rate of 1,750 rials to the dollar and resell them at the market rate of 8,000 to the dollar. You needed only the right connections for an import license. “I estimate that, over a period of ten years, Iran lost $3 billion to $5 billion annually from this kind of exchange-rate fraud,” says Saeed Laylaz, an economist, now with Iran’s biggest carmaker. “And the lion’s share of that went to about 50 families.”
One of the families benefiting from the foreign trade system was the Asgaroladis, an old Jewish clan of bazaar traders, who converted to Islam several generations ago. Asadollah Asgaroladi exports pistachios, cumin, dried fruit, shrimp and caviar, and imports sugar and home appliances; his fortune is estimated by Iranian bankers to be some $400 million.
Asgaroladi had a little help from his older brother, Habibollah, who, as minister of commerce in the 1980s, was in charge of distributing lucrative foreign-trade licenses. (He was also a counterparty to commodities trader and then-fugitive Marc Rich, who helped Iran bypass U.S.-backed sanctions.)
Incidentally, Paul Klebnikov is no longer with us.
According to Wikipedia;
Klebnikov was shot dead on a Moscow street late at night on July 9, 2004 by unknown assailants. The publisher of Forbes’ Russian edition has said that the murder is “definitely linked to his professional activity“. The United States Senate has asked Russia to accept help in the investigation of Klebnikov’s death, but Russia’s Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has said that Russia can cope on its own.
The killing was linked to Chechen criminals. Klebnikov was investigating shady Russian “businessmen” at the time.
Interesting that the Iranian’s consider New Zealand important enough to grace us with the presence of a man of the calibre of Asadollah Asgaroladi.