Khamenei heads some bonyads, and this gives him economic influence, of course" because the popular, democratic, openly-debated decision to award a significant chunk of the Iranian economy to the administration of religious authorities was a popular, democratic, openly-debated decision of the Iranian people. Oppose decisions arrived at in this manner, and you oppose democracy for Iran.
Bonyads are not specifically proscribed in The Koran, unlike zakat and the ubiquitous concepts of charity and anti-usury (high interest/compound interest), but if one tries to overturn them" well, all I can say is prepare for a serious fight. If you think the millions of bonyad workers and recipients of bonyad lower-cost goods want all that to be replaced by (mostly-Western) stockholders" good luck with your efforts.
Very obvious, but of course not perfect, parallels can be made elsewhere: the lower class supporters of Chavismo's collectivos have won an unprecedented number of votes (and street battles) to preserve similar anti-neoliberal economic concepts and structures. Iran is not nearly as susceptible to Washington's meddling, in large part because such gains have been consolidating democratic support for the government for a generation longer than in Venezuela. Iran's cohesion and unity against capitalist-imperialist destabilisation efforts is not as impressive - pound for pound - as Cuba, which adopted similar (though not Islamic-influenced) concepts a generation earlier than Iran did. China is a generation up on Cuba, and aren't they doing rather well? China doesn't have bonyads, of course, but Beijing and Tehran have such a strong and long-term alliance because they obviously have much in common" once translations are made.
So, between zakat, khums, the bonyads, generalized Iranophobia and a desire to denigrate any economic thought which is not far-right neoliberal capitalism" this is how we have arrived at Western nonsense like "Millionaire Mullahs", and the propaganda is unrelenting.
Like, for example, the 2013 Reuters report on Setad, a bonyad headed by the Supreme Leader post, which was absurdly titled, "Khamenei controls massive financial empire built on property seizures".
[Part 3 will examine this report, which is still being cited today despite its obvious bias, misrepresentations and clear goal of spreading Iranophobic and Islamophobic propaganda.]