By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has named the chairman of a powerful state-owned conglomerate sanctioned by the United States as his first vice president.
Mohammad Mokhber, who has headed the conglomerate known as Setad since 2007, was named as Raisi’s first vice president, the president’s website said in a statement on August 8.
Setad, or the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order, is named for Ruhollah Khomeini, the Islamic republic’s founder.
The conglomerate and Mokhber were blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury in January. Washington said that Setad “has a stake in nearly every sector of the Iranian economy, including energy, telecommunications, and financial services.”
Mokhber, who holds a doctorate in international law, was appointed to head Setad by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei after serving in a string of official positions in the southwestern province of Khuzestan.
Setad was originally founded in the late 1980s to manage confiscated properties following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
It has since turned into a sprawling conglomerate, and its subsidiary Barekat Foundation produced Iran’s first local COVID-19 vaccine project. The vaccine received emergency approval from health authorities in June.
Raisi, who was elected on June 18, is expected to consolidate the power of ultraconservatives during his four-year term.
He was sworn in last week and called for a lifting of sanctions during his inauguration speech.