An economics graduate, Mohsen was a devoted environmentalist and health nut who hadn’t wanted to go into the petroleum business, which is Iran’s lifeblood. He emerged from college as an idealist full of business ideas. He tried to set up a plant to recycle plastics. But much of the equipment was made in the United States, and at the last minute a Malaysian reseller balked for fear of angering his American suppliers by dealing with Iranians.
He then sought to establish a business allowing Iran to take advantage of carbon credits, but found it impossible due to Iran’s lack of access to the international banking system because of the sanctions over its nuclear program.
So he gave up on his dreams and teamed up with a cousin to start a business selling gas and petroleum products overseas.
A few years ago, the self-described fitness aficionado, broad-shouldered, slim and with white strands flecking his full head of dark hair, began chain-smoking.
“I’m a criminal,” he says, with an air of self-pity. “This system makes you betray everything.”