Sunday , 21 April 2024

Canadian Visa Bid Exposes Wealth Of Iran Parliament Speaker’s Son

iranintl – Documents filed by the son of Iran’s Parliamentary Speaker for immigration to Canada reveal that he has hundreds of thousands of dollars in Iranian and foreign banks, Iran International can exclusively reveal.

“I declare that the Account Number 380.8000.13637806.2 (in Iran’s Pasargad Bank) is under my name… and I can spend or transfer 50% of the available balance (12,394,806,106 rials equivalent of $295,114) immediately upon my request,” read part of a letter addressed to the Canadian Immigration Office by Es’hagh Ghalibaf, the son of Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf. In another document, he declared that he also has over $15,000 in National Australian Bank (NAB) and Australia and New Zealand Bank (ANZ).

While in many countries $300,000 might not be considered a huge sum, in Iran, where government employees earn around $200 a month, it raises questions as to how he has amassed such an amount. The Parliament Speaker, according to some reports, earns around $4,000 a month.

Earlier in the month, Iran International reported about Es’hagh’s five-year attempt to obtain Canadian residency, including paying at least $4,000 to a lawyer and numerous follow-ups by a Canadian citizen at the office of Pierre Poilievre, Canadian lawmaker and the leader of the opposition Conservative Party. Es’hagh’s court document revealed that Polivier’s office made “repeated inquiries” about the progress of his application. His office told Iran International that he has not provided a recommendation letter in support of granting the visa.

After reports of the case went viral online, at least two petitions were launched asking the Canadian government to prevent the granting of the visa to the son of a former top Revolutionary Guard commander. “As proud Iranian-Canadians who stand for freedom and democracy in Iran, we find it unimaginable that Canada would consider welcoming the son of such a warmonger, who, along with his father and family, has allegedly participated in money laundering and other corrupt activities,” the petition said.

Following Iran International’s scoop on Ghalibaf, Canada’s Immigration Minister Marc Miller said the permanent residency application of Es’hagh was refused. “The Iranian regime has engaged in acts of terrorism and systemic human rights violations,” he noted. “We stand with the people of Iran.”

In 2022, Es’hagh Ghalibaf filed for the judicial review of the processing time of his immigration application at a Canadian Federal Court and the court’s Justice, John Norris, ruled that his application should be granted. Iran International managed to obtain a 150-page bundle of official documents filed in his immigration case based on Canada’s Access to Information Act. Ghalibaf uploaded these documents to the website of the Canadian Immigration Office in late 2018 in order to obtain permanent residency in Canada.

In 2017, Bagher Ghalibaf, who was Tehran’s mayor at the time and running for office in the presidential election, presented a sheet to the cameras during a live debate in which he listed his own assets, those of his wife and his son Es’hagh. He claimed that Es’hagh, his only dependent son at the time, only owned a 1971 Nissan Patrol, a motorcycle, and a total of about one million tomans (10,000 rials or about $250 at the exchange rate then) in savings in four banks.

According to the documents filed for immigration to Canada in 2018, Es’hagh, whose father was covering his living expenses, managed to increase his personal savings about 600 times in about a year. Additionally, documents submitted to the Canadian Immigration Office indicate that Es’hagh purchased and rented out two apartment units in Melbourne within the same short period.

Ghalibaf is a household name in many corruption cases in the Islamic Republic, with his wife, daughter, and his older son Elias implicated in various scandals. During his term as mayor of the capital Tehran, several of his deputies and people in his close circle were sentenced to 20 to 30 years in prison but the judiciary never prosecuted him, maybe because he is a close relative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. During the same period, Ghalibaf handed over lands with a total area of 71,397 square meters to his wife’s charity institute in 2011, apart from another 2.5 trillion rials, nearly $100 million at the time.

An audio file of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commanders discussing massive financial corruption that leaked in February 2022 also directly involved Ghalibaf.

In March 2022, Ghalibaf’s wife, daughter and son-in-law were caught on camera at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport with a large shopping haul of baby clothes and accessories bought from Turkey. The scandal, called ‘SismuniGate’ in Iran, created a media frenzy at the time, with a large number of people as well as several politicians calling for Ghalibaf’s resignation from the parliament.

Ghalibaf became parliament speaker in 2020 after ‘revolutionary principlists’ or hardliners swept an engineered election, when most reformists were banned from running as candidates.