March 22, 2014 by Daniel Greenfield How do you spend 2 billion dollars on luxury cars? Apparently Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary really likes its Porsches. The Iranian parliament’s recent investigation into a scheme to import luxury cars instead of medicine threatens to erode the credibility of a leading pro-Iran lobbying group that has long claimed that economic sanctions are preventing access to medicine in Iran.
An investigation by Iranian lawmakers recently revealed that nearly $2 billion that had been allocated to the importation of medicine into Iran was actually spent on the purchase of luxury cars.
While it had long been suspected that the Iranian government was squandering funds for medicine, pro-Tehran advocacy groups like the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) used the medicine shortage as a hook to claim that sanctions were causing the shortage.
As average Iranians struggle to obtain key medications, Iran’s ruling class has enjoyed relatively unfettered access to top-notch healthcare, a fact that has not been raised in NIAC’s talking points.
When rumors of the medicine scam first emerged in 2012, then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sacked the country’s health minister in order to keep her silent.
Azarmehr, an Iranian blogger provides more details.
Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, Ahmadinejad’s health minister at the time, was not saying what the Western media were regurgitating, she kept publicly complaining that the $2 Billion in the annual budget, allocated to import medicine with, was not received by the health ministry.
It was a bizarre situation in which, Iran’s health minister kept repeating the medicine shortage was nothing to do with sanction and yet the Western media kept repeating, sanctions were causing the medicine shortage in Iran! Islamic Republic’s first female health minister, Marzieh Dastjerdi, finally paid the price for her outspoken remarks and was unceremoniously sacked by Ahmadinejad. Now 18 months after, the Islamic Republic’s Article 90 Majlis Commission, has endorsed her claims. The allocated $2 Billion with subsidised currency rate which should have gone to the Health Ministry to import medicine with, was instead being used to import luxury cars.
A subsidised exchange rate, imposed by the government to protect imports of food and medicine from the collapse of its currency, has been exploited by companies linked to the Revolutionary Guard to bankroll the purchase of sports cars and other luxury items.
When Porsche issued a limited edition of its classic 911 sports car this year, two companies linked to Etebarat Mehr Financial Services, part of the Revolutionary Guard’s investment arm, began taking down payments for the new model. Porsche had estimated 40 sales to the Islamic Republic. But after a surge in requests from wealthy Iranians, the companies requested 1400 vehicles.
1,400 Porsches? They’re really suffering.
About Daniel Greenfield
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century. ------ ...