President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's executive deputy is denying allegations of financial wrongdoing. Hamid Baghai told IRNA: "I can tell you frankly this alleged 450 billion touman ($450 million) agreement in Kish Island is false, and such an agreement does not even exist."
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L) and Hamid Baghai
In recent weeks, Iran's conservative elite has been accusing the president's office of financial fraud, pointing fingers at Hamid Baghai and Esfaniar Rahim Mashai, Ahmadinejad's two chief aides.
Baghai said: "A number of these news outlets have said that Baghai and Mashai have shares in the culture and tourism company Samga." He added that Samga is a private-sector, publicly traded company that has about 200,000 shareholders. He stated that he owns no shares in Samga.
Baghai said the sentence issued against the Cultural Heritage Organization, which he heads and Esfandiar Rahim Mashai headed before him, is not an indictment of him personally but of the entire organization. He added, however, that the charge of misappropriation of funds levied against the organization is also unfounded.
Ever since the flare-up of disputes between Ahmadinejad and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, the conservative elite has been targeting Ahmadinejad's circle of close supporters in government. The Iranian media has been filled with accusations of fraud.
The conservative elite has been referring to Mashai as the leader of a "deviant current" in government that is trying to sway the Islamic Republic from its course.
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