Setad (short for Persian: ستاد اجرای فرمان حضرت امام, Setad Ejraiye Farmane Hazrate Emam, or "Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam"), is a multi-sector Iranian business organization in the Islamic Republic of Iran, with holdings of 37 companies, and an estimated value in US dollars of $95 billion (made up of about $52 billion in real estate and $43 billion in corporate holdings.) It is under the control of the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and created from thousands of properties confiscated from Iranians.
The organization has been described as "secretive" and "little known". It is not overseen by the Iranian Parliament, as that body voted in 2008 to "prohibit itself from monitoring organizations that the supreme leader controls, except with his permission". It is, however, an important factor in Khameni's power, giving him financial independence from parliament and the national budget, and thus "insulating him from Iran's messy factional infighting".
Much of the information compiled about Setad outside of Iran has come from a 2013 investigation by Reuters news agency. In response, Iranian authorities have stated the findings of the investigation lack "any basis", are "far from realities" and "not correct," but given no further details. According to the same Reuters report, there is no evidence that Khamenei is tapping Setad to enrich himself. According to Professor As’ad Abdul Rahman:
However, an important issue was missed in the Reuters report which is ‘Al Khums’ or the Fifth of excess income paid as a form of Zakat (alms-giving), which is usually reserved for Aal-Al-Bayt, Prophet Mohammad’s Household (PBUH). The black turban of Khamenei signifies that he belongs to Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib and Fatima’s household and being Al Wali Al Faqeeh (guardian of Islamic jurists with full control of the society’s affairs) gives him the majority share of the Fifth, as was the case with Ayatollah Khomeini. The amount is worth hundreds of millions of dollars accrued annually and added to Setad’s revenues.
The organization started in 1989 to "manage and sell properties abandoned in the chaotic years" after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Much of its proceeds were to go to assist war veterans, war widows "and the downtrodden."
In 2006, as sanctions against the Islamic Republic intensified, the organization determined that conglomerates such as the South Korean Chaebol helped developing economies grow faster. To make a conglomerate out of Setad, the organization set out to acquire other companies and stakes in other companies. According to Reuters the organization acquired a stake in "a major bank" in 2007 and in "Iran's largest telecommunications company" in 2009. In 2010 it took control of Rey Investment Co, valued by the US Treasury Department at $40 billion that year.
Reuters reported that petrochemical companies belonging to Setad stand to benefit from the easing of sanctions stemming from the Geneva interim agreement on Iranian nuclear program.
- Stecklow, Steve; Dehghanpisheh, Babak; Torbati, Yeganeh (November 11, 2013). "Assets of the Ayatollah". Reuters. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
- Steve Stecklow; Babak Dehghanpisheh; Yeganeh Torbati. "Khamenei controls massive financial empire built on property seizures, (part 1)". November 11, 2013. Reuters. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
- As’ad Abdul Rahman (February 13, 2015). Gulf News, ed. "Iran: A financial empire untouched by sanctions".
- Steve Stecklow; Babak Dehghanpisheh; Yeganeh Torbati. "Part 2: An organization controlled by Iran's supreme leader generates billions of dollars a year, helping to solidify his control over a country hobbled by sanctions.". November 11, 2013. Reuters. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
- "Exclusive-Khamenei's Business Empire Gains From Iran Sanctions Relief". New York Times. Reuters. 22 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014.