Radio Farda Exposé On IRGC Corruption, Infighting Raises Ire Of Iranian Authorities

A leaked audio recording in which two former senior officials of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) discuss corruption that helps fund the powerful force and its secretive military operations abroad has shed light on infighting and graft that extends to the hierarchy of the country’s clerical regime.

The implication in the recording, published in a wide-ranging exposé by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda on February 11, that some of the country’s most powerful decision-makers were aware of or involved in corrupt practices has prompted a furious reaction in Tehran, including from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Amid the outcry that erupted following the publication of the audio file, state bodies and top officials have gone on the defensive with fierce denials of wrongdoing, claims that the recording proves the regime’s commitment to fighting corruption, and accusations that Radio Farda — a U.S. congressionally funded media outlet banned in Iran — is engaging in “psychological warfare” intended to destroy the IRGC.

In the audio, former IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari and his deputy for construction and economic affairs, Sadegh Zolghadrnia, can be heard discussing corruption investigations within the IRGC and Tehran’s municipality under then-Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

The precise date of the recording obtained by Radio Farda from a confidential source in Iran is not known, but the conversation appears to have taken place amid a years-long corruption investigation that first emerged in 2017 and resulted in a top IRGC commander and a Tehran deputy mayor being sentenced to lengthy prison sentences in March 2021.

While the prison sentences handed down by the Supreme Court were reported in Iranian state media, the details of the corruption charges were not. The leaked recording fills in some of the blanks, and indicates that high-ranking regime members and one of the Islamic republic’s most heralded military commanders were at the least well aware of the particulars.

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