Unconfirmed reports suggest that Iranian officials are sending their family members and assets abroad amid antigovernment protests that show no sign of abating.
According to a report on the website of UK’s Daily Express, top officials of the Islamic Republic are reportedly attempting to secure British passports for their families to exit the country since Iranians have revolted against the regime following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was killed in police custody in September.
Citing an unnamed Iranian source, the report also claimed that officials have been chartering up to "five flights a day" for their families, adding that some sections of “Tehran’s main airport” have been taken over as a fast-track area for their own family and friends to escape the country.
The source said things are moving fast at the airport, noting that “It started more than two weeks ago. The regime changed all security details at the airport. They were moving civilians (friends and family) from the back entrance of the airport directly to the airplanes for international flights.”
According to the source, the airport authorities have taken several measures to prevent the news of the departures from reaching the media and people, saying, “They would move the regular staff away whenever this was happening and confiscate their phones. They also replaced the regular staff who are handling the…VIP section of the airport with their own staff.”
However, so far there have been no confirmed reports about regime insiders and their families leaving the country.
The source added that top officials of the regime are also seeking to acquire Canadian, British and Swiss passports.
British conservative lawmaker Bob Stewart said he has heard that Iranian officials are fleeing to the United Kingdom and asked Foreign Office Minister Gillian Keegan if those reports would be investigated. In Response, Keegan has said, "Obviously, we have our own rule of law here in the UK, but in relation to the rumors…about passports, I haven’t heard those, but I will certainly look into that and write to him.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on October 29 that his country will tighten visas for people affiliated with the Iranian regime. Germany has also made a similar announcement.
The exodus of Islamic Republic politicians and officials comes on the backdrop of daily protests that seem to be gaining momentum during the last six weeks, with more and more states expressing support for the uprising and sanctioning regime officials.
There are also unconfirmed reports that officials are transferring their assets to friendly countries and there are official reports that many high-priced and luxurious real estates in the capital Tehran are being sold below market value, strengthening speculations that some of the rich are in a hurry to leave the country.
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif and his wife
Social media users are reporting regular money transfers abroad by high-ranking officials of the regime. According to one account, former Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s wife is said to have transferred €4 million to an ABC Bank account in Shanghai through some agencies in Dubai.
A recent report by the government’s official news agency, IRNA, confirmed the sale of many apartments cheaper than their estimated prices, describing it as the result of lower purchasing power due to economic crisis. However, the purchasing power of Iranians has been low for at least a couple of years due to 40-percent inflation, but the housing prices never dwindled.
Moreover, a lot of top officials, including lawmakers and military commanders, have been active in the construction business in recent years, making the best use of their connections to circumvent regulations and the ability to take big bank loans, something impossible for ordinary Iranians.