The headquarters of Iran Insurance company in Tehran

Losses Accumulate At Iran's Government-Controlled Insurance Company

Sunday, 12/10/2023

The first-ever national Iranian state-controlled insurance company has faced a significant loss of net profits in 2022, a decrease of 300% from the previous year.

Established in 1935, the company with offices around the world, including in the UK, has suffered substantial losses over the past few years, under the management of political appointees.

The government-owned Iran Insurance Company held a market share of nearly 50% back in 2014 which is now estimated to be 27%.
The company's accumulated losses since 2021 have increased by more than 4 trillion rials (nearly $95 million), in addition to accumulated debts.

Aftabnews in Tehran has reported that the downward spiral of the organization has accelerated much more rapidly during the past two years, which could point to the beginning of Ebrahim Raisi's presidency, who appointed his political allies to run the company.

A series of promises were made to justify the changes when Ehsan Khandouzi, Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance, reshuffled key players in the company. In the industry, these moves caused outrage and backfired.

Economy minister Ehsan Khandouzi in parliament

In light of recent scandals such as the $3.5 billion embezzlement case of Debsh Tea Company and the missing $336 million of Tehran Municipality's collected revenues, it is not unthinkable to ascribe losses at Iran Insurance company to mismanagement and even possible corruption.

In January 2022, Raisi's Economy Minister appointed Hassan Sharifi as CEO after removing Majid Bakhtiari from this position. Various Iranian media outlets described Sharifi as a “security agent” with experience working for the Iran Insurance Company.

Aftabnews reported in April that the appointment was made in what appeared to be a “political agreement behind the scenes”. In just a few months the weaknesses of the new management team fueled infighting and disunity in the company.

A second change involved the removal of Dariush Mohammadi and the election of Alireza Moghadesi as a member of the Iran Insurance Board of Directors in December 2022. Previously, Moghadasi was the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA). It is not clear why Mohammadi was removed from this position.

Bimeyedigital, a website covering insurance news in Iran, characterized Moghadasi's appointment as "controversial" and wrote the following in December 2022, "Ehsan Khandozi has sent a clear message to the insurance industry by this appointment: There will be no room for meritocrats and elitists, but only a select few will be allowed to operate based upon criteria established by the Minister of Economy.

Another publication also criticized the move and wrote: Mohammadi should be regarded as the most qualified former member of Iran's insurance board who has given his place to the least qualified person in the industry, with no experience in the area of insurance.
The latest change took place in September and involved the Director-General of the Central Insurance Company of Iran (CIC). A regulatory body for the Iranian insurance industry.
The Economy Minister dismissed Majid Behzadpour, the head of Iran’s Central Insurance Company after nearly 20 insurance companies were targeted by hackers. The government denied this claim, but it sparked another set of changes, and some have even contended that the hacking was a pretext to legitimize changing management. 

The Paydari ultraconservative party, enjoying a majority in parliament, also has unparalleled influence in presidential administration and controls most of the appointments to government-controlled companies. Numerous government corruption cases in the past two decades have shown that state companies are a lucrative target for regime insiders in Iran.

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