Important: Learn About Cuba's GAESA and Iran's SETAD

Thursday, October 22, 2015
A few weeks ago, a Bloomberg investigation explained how the big winner in the Obama-Castro deal is the Cuban military's business conglomerate GAESA, run by Raul's son-in-law, General Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas.

Click here to read the Bloomberg piece.

Similarly, a Reuters investigation had shown how the big winner in the Obama-Khamenei deal is the Ayatollah's business conglomerate, SETAD.

In other words, all foreign trade and investment with Cuba and Iran are funneled through its regime's powerful business conglomerates.

Both entities also share an affinity for trafficking in stolen property.

This isn't a question of theories. It's a matter of fact.

These regimes are organized like Mafia-states.

Akin to those who currently defend business with Cuba and Iran, there were those who -- in its heyday --unscrupulously defended the Mafia as a guarantor of security, stability and economic development.

Of course, that was short-sighted, irresponsible and dangerous.

As it would have been to argue that doing even more business with the Mafia would somehow bring it down.

(It took RICO laws to do that.)

Yet, that's precisely what some purport with Cuba and Iran today.

From Reuters:

Conglomerate controlled by Iran's supreme leader a winner from nuclear deal

The historic nuclear deal reached between Iran and major world powers has yet to be implemented, but one clear winner has emerged: Iran's highest authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Khamenei has yet to publicly back the accord, which lifts some sanctions on Iran in return for limits on its nuclear program. But he does stand to benefit, thanks to his close control of one of the most powerful and secretive organizations in Iran -- "Setad Ejraiye Farmane Hazrate Emam," or Setad.

The deal, which is likely to go into effect after clearing a major Congressional hurdle last week, lifts U.S. secondary sanctions on Setad and about 40 firms it owns or has a stake in, according to a Reuters tally based on annexes to the deal.

The delisting of Setad -- which has little connection to Iran's nuclear program but is close to Iran's ruling elite -- feeds into U.S. Republicans' criticism that the deal will empower Iran's hardliners and help fund its regional ambitions.

Former U.S. officials say Setad was just one of a slew of entities sanctioned because they were considered part of the Iranian government. One former official said Setad was also targeted because the United States saw it as close to Khamenei and believed that the sanctions might induce him to back serious nuclear negotiations.

With the nuclear deal reached, they say it is now appropriate to remove those measures. Many U.S. sanctions related to Iran's support for militant groups and alleged human rights abuses will remain in place.

With stakes in nearly every sector of Iran's economy, Setad built its empire on the systematic seizure of thousands of properties belonging to religious minorities, business people, and Iranians living abroad, according to a 2013 Reuters investigation, which estimated the network's holdings at about $95 billion.

Iranians who said their family properties were seized by Setad described in interviews in 2013 how men showed up and threatened to use violence if the owners didn't leave the premises at once.