Iran: IRGC’s Smuggling Destroying Economy

An important feature of corruption in the Iranian regime is their approbation of the import of smuggled goods that adversely affects large percentages of Iran’s economy. 

The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC),  and other state-linked institutions, control many of Iran’s ports, bypassing customs, and transforming these economic centers to transits used to smuggle goods, according to an article published by the National Council of Resistance to Iran (NCRI). By taking control over the country’s most important economic routes, and establishing a major financial empire, the IRGC has now taken full control over large portions of Iran’s imports/exports.

At a time when the country’s industries, factories, and production units have either gone bankrupt or are on the verge of bankruptcy,  the IRGC’s smuggling activities are worsening the already dire economic situation.

State-run Tasnim news agency wired a report on May 5th saying,

“The numbers of $15 to $20 billion of smuggled goods is not a low figure for our country; it is natural that the entrance of goods from illegal channels can deliver irrecoverable damages. From an economic point of view the uncontrolled entrance of smuggled goods will lead to the end of the country’s domestic production, and this could have meant jobs for 2 million people.” 

Currently the IRGC controls nearly 90 ports, almost 45% of Iran’s 212 official ports.

According to the NCRI, the authority given to the IRCG by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei allows the commanders to use ports and the country’s ground/air borders for whatever means necessary, and refrain from paying customs. The IRGC’s imports and exports from these ports are estimated at nearly $12 billion each year. This money goes toward financing the IRGC’s continued export of terrorism and fundamentalism.

The state-run AmadNews website wrote, “For the first time the ISNA news agency issued a report in 2012 titled ‘Troubling Ports’, naming 80 illegal piers in the southern provinces of Hormozgan, Bushehr, Sistan & Baluchistan and Khuzestan, and Mazandaran in the north. Hormozagan stood out with 40 illegal ports. The IRGC uses these ports as facilities for ‘illegal imports and exports’ and producing ‘dirty money’.”

Ahmad Salek, a member of Khamenei’s faction, has stated, “In the past year no measures were taken to stop goods being smuggled into the country. $25 billion in goods were smuggled into the country. Of course, the Economy Minister said we have confronted the smuggling phenomenon and it has reached $15 billion through customs. However, the truth is that today’s $25 billion has reached $35 billion.” 

However, even using the conservative $15 billion figure put forward last year by the Anti-Smuggling Department, this is still an extremely large figure for a country who had an import of $40 billion last year. This shows that approximately 40% of the country’s official imports went through smuggled channels.

By referring to the numbers provided by state-run sources and statements by the regime’s own officials one sees the true nature of smuggling in Iran, and its destructive potential on Iran’s economy.

A senior judiciary official, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, said, “We have heard that 4,000 trucks and containers are entering the country through the Bandar Abbas port, while only 1,500 of these containers are controlled and inspected.” 

“Why are the borders impenetrable for ISIS but open to thousands of flat-bed trucks bringing in smuggled goods?” asked former regime Commerce Minister Yahiya Al Es’hagh.

On April 5, 2017, semi-official Fars news agency wrote that according to Mohammad Reza Pour-Ebrahimi, Chair of the Iranian Parliament Economic Commission,“Estimates show $20 to $25 billion in goods are smuggled into the country each year…”

On April 10th,according to a reporte posted by the state-run ‘Ruydad 24’ website, “Lack of oversight and transparency over the economic activities of free zones has transformed these zones into cliffs for the country’s production and employment. Each year $18 to $25 billion in goods are smuggled into the country, leading to the loss of 2 million job opportunities… the spokesman of the Anti-Smuggling Department said one fourth of the country’s imported goods are smuggled.”

What is taking place is catastrophic for Iran’s economy, causing enormously destructive impacts, including higher unemployment, a production halt, and loss of jobs.