Bonyads, the supposedly charitable conglomerates of Iran, are finally getting some international scrutiny. Security analyst Avi Jorisch has called for a new phase in the sanctions regime against Iran: targeting the bonyads:
Bonyads are tax-exempt Iranian charitable trusts that control an estimated 20–40% of Iran’s GDP. Subsidized by the government, they answer only to Iran’s Supreme Leader. Bonyads represent an important target for sanctions because they control such a large share of Iran’s economy.
As charities, they supposedly provide social services to the poor and the needy, but in fact, they are also involved in every major industry, including soybean and cotton production, hotel administration, soft drink firms, shipping line ownership and car manufacturing.
The United States should publicly name, shame, and blacklist all major bonyads, thus making it illegal to make a charitable contribution to them.
The United States and its allies have all the tools necessary to punish the banks, corporations and charities helping Iran achieve nuclearization. If we are truly going to stop Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, we must use as many of the bows in our quiver as possible.
Indeed, loopholes in the current sanctions regime probably do allow for donations to the bonyads under the guise of food and medical aid.
Money Jihad readers may recall that bonyads have also been described as “massive semi-government foundations with vast religious and philanthropic missions [which] have metamorphosed into huge holding companies that dominate the trade and manufacturing sectors while evading competition, taxes and state regulations,” and about which “analysts agree that the scant supervision has encouraged inefficiencies, mismanagement, and embezzlement,” and it has been asked whether “their funds have been used to procure weapons of mass destruction.”