Tejarat Aria Gostar Iranian Navid Company is a Tehran-registered Private Joint Stock company importing sugar and commodities. The entity was incorporated on 29 May 2011.
Hassan Afrashtehpour and Yousef Zarei Nikjeh are the company directors. Hassan Afrashtehpour and his brother, Davoud, appear to have a range of business interests including food trading companies (sugar, cereals and poultry) in Iran and the UAE and an Iranian company Petro Hourtash, an entity engaged in oil drilling operations in the Caspian Sea. The Afrashtehpour brothers were also referred to as "major developers in Tehran’s booming construction sector", in Iranian press reporting in 1997.
Hassan and Davour Afrashtehpour have been subject to several criminal convictions related to illegal importation of goods, corruption and embezzlement.
On 18 November 1997, Iranian newspaper, Roozno, and the Singaporean, Straits Times, reported the arrest of Hassan and Davoud Afrashtehpour in the Iranian city of Tabriz and their subsequent sentencing to 25 and 20 years respectively for ‘economic sabotage’. They were convicted of embezzling 60 million US dollars from the state-owned Bank Saderat as well as bribery and falsifying documents. The Iranian newspapers drew a potential link between this case against the Afrashtehpours and the far reaching investigation into Sharham Jazarezi-Arab, an Iranian entrepreneur and businessman involved in a high-profile corruption case implicating several officials in the Islamic Republic.
The case was the first in an anti-corruption drive launched by the Iranian government in 1997, but many described the investigations as ‘politically motivated’, noting that the conviction of wealthy businessmen close to the Shah’s regime was commonplace following the revolution of 1979. However, also commonplace was the brokering of deals between these imprisoned businessmen and the state, to secure mutually agreeable terms for their release and return to business; the Afrashtehpours were no exception to this trend.
These sanctions were followed by the further rounds of sanctions against the nuclear program, among which were the United Nations sanctions of June 2010 and European Union sanctions of July 2010, the latter imposing strict limitations on trade with Iran. Tejarat Aria Gostar Iranian Navid Company was incorporated just six days after the European Union passed a key piece of legislation sanctioning the Iranian nuclear program.
On 28 September 2006 Iranian newspaper, Aftab, reported Hassan Afrashtehpour’s involvement in a 60 million US dollar embezzlement and corruption scandal. The article claimed that Afrashtehpour had received the payment in return for fraudulently importing goods into the country. The article added that Afrashtehpour kept this money outside the country.
In a further scandal relating to illegal imports, Iranian State newspaper, Jahan, reported on 13 May 2010 that one of the Afrashtehpour brothers was involved in a partnership with a highly controversial figure, Akbar Khoshkush, for the illegal import of large numbers of mobile phones from Dubai for sale in Iran.
Khoshkush was a former member of the Iranian Ministry of Information (now known as the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security (MOIS)) is infamous for his involvement in the “death squad” murders of several Iranian dissidents in exile abroad in the late 1980s and early 90s. This series of murders, which took place between 1988 and 1998, came to be known as the ‘Chain murders of Iran’. Khoshkush is also widely understood to have ordered the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution to arrest and execute opposition members inside Iran.