Two weeks after yet another suspect was arrested in the huge three billion Toman financial embezzlement case, Iran’s attorney general Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejhei announced that individuals from all three branches of government had engaged in unlawful activities. He said those involved included people close to the administration, members of the Majlis and deputies in the judiciary.
artwork by Hadi Heydari, Shargh daily
In addition to being the attorney general, Ejhei is also the spokesman for the country’s judiciary. Speaking to the members of parliament, he listed the activities performed by the judiciary to fight corruption in the country.
According to him, in the three billion Toman embezzlement lawsuit, “There are individuals at the most senior executive levels in banks, a deputy of the head of the judiciary branch, the head of the intelligence protection unit of the judiciary and a number of other Majlis representatives against whom lawsuits have been filed.” He said more than 500 individuals were involved in this corruption case who had been investigated while over 200 of them were among the most senior executives and managers in banks, the president’s office, Majlis deputies, former senior judiciary employees at the level of deputy head of the judiciary in intelligence.
Ejhei warned that when financial corruption included political corruption then the Islamic regime would face some very serious issues.
He concluded his remarks to the deputies by promising to hold more sessions with the parliamentarians and speak about the issue. “The Majlis should hold more meetings so that you representatives learn of more developments and so that you can inform the public of these issues, in accordance with the law,” he said.
The head of the Majlis, Ali Larijani spoke after Ejhei’s remarks and said, “It was the duty of the judiciary to take preventive measures regarding corruption.” He opined that Ejhei’s remarks were only the beginning and that more hearings would be held if it was deemed necessary.”
Mehdi Isazadeh, a member of the social committee of the Majlis, responded to Ejhei’s comments and countered, “ We had hoped that the head of the judiciary would talk of those things that have not been talked about, which did not materialize, which also indicated that we representatives failed to fully defend the rights of people.”
The three billion Toman embezzlement case is related to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s second term. Some judiciary officials named it the largest embezzlement case in history. But others were quick to point out that there were many other lawsuits in the Islamic republic that were similar in size. After Hassan Rouhani assumed his duties as president in 1013, Isazadeh and a number of other deputies had said that some embezzlement cases during Ahmadinejad’s presidential tenure were much larger than this embezzlement case.
This embezzlement case at one time had more than 55 suspects who had received sentences. Four people were sentenced to death while others were handed long-term prison sentences.
Many of the sentences were passed at a time when a defended in a related lawsuit had fled the country a few days before his arrest. Two weeks ago Interpol had announced that it had arrested one of the suspects in the case and handed him over to Iranian officials. He seems to have been identified in one of the Persian Gulf countries after he was arrested.
In the course of the hearings of this case, the names of a number of government and Majlis officials too were cited. Hamid Poor-Mohammadi, the vice-president of Bank Melli who is also related to ex vice-president Esfandiar Rahim Mashai was among those cited. Hamid Behbahani and a deputy minister of mines were also mentioned in the court sessions regarding this case. A former member of the powerful Guardians Council Mohammad Jahromi who had been the president of Bank Saderat too had been implicated in the lawsuit. In addition, some 17 Majlis representatives also have been named in the case. Mehdi Farahani, the representative of the attorney general had expressly said during the court sessions that some Majlis representatives, former judiciary, security and intelligence officers, members of the organization responsible for privatizing banks are also part of the defendants.
Perhaps the most senior official whose name is mentioned in the case is former vice-president Esfandiar Rahim Mashai. Some media affiliated to the hardline conservatists knows as Principlists had earlier requested that Mashai be prosecuted for his involvement in the embezzlement case. But the head of Iran’s general inspectorate had announced that there was no evidence of his involvement in the case.
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