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Iran annuls private ownership of its largest sugarcane mill

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows a worker in a sugarcane farm in the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan.

Iran’s largest sugarcane mill has returned to government ownership after a long legal battle which proved the country is determined to go against fake privatization schemes despite negative implications it might have for private investors.

Local news agencies said in reports on Saturday that the final court ruling on renationalization of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company had been issued earlier in the day.

The reports also cited a tweet posted by head of Iran’s Supreme Audit Court (SAC) Mehrdad Bazrpash saying that the long battle to abolish the privatization of Haft Tappeh had been won.

They said the final ruling on the case had been waiting for an assurance from the government that workers would face no problem during the process to transfer the ownership of the company.

Haft Tappeh’s case has caught the headlines in recent years mainly because of sporadic worker strikes and demonstrations over unpaid salaries held in the company’s base in the southwestern province of Khuzestan.

Worker unions had repeatedly accused the private owners of the company of trying to deliberately halt sugarcane farming and processing in a bid to close the company and sell its properties.

The SAC, which is a subsidiary of the Iranian parliament, revealed in its investigations that numerous irregularities had taken place in the process to privatize Haft Tappeh, which is one of the oldest agricultural companies in the Middle East.

The investigations found out that the company had been sold at a very cheap price and that the private owners had benefited from rent-seeking activities.

The Iranian government has been divesting its shares in many large companies in the past two decades in a bid to encourage more private investment in the economy.

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