Ahmadinejad wants 'honest' scam probe

2011-09-14 19:05
Tehran - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday asked the judiciary to launch an "honest" probe into a massive $2.6bn scam, while brushing aside claims that members of his inner circle are involved.

Enemies of the government "launch accusations against us through a massive amount of propaganda, so the real thieves can get away," Ahmadinejad said in a speech in the north-western city of Ardabil, broadcast on the presidency website.

"I am asking the chief of judiciary (Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani) to pursue the case and use honest people ... and find out what and who is behind the embezzlement," Ahmadinejad said.

The remarks come after revelations that several Iranian banks were targeted in one of the biggest frauds in the Islamic republic's history, collectively losing nearly $2.6bn in more than two years.

The fraud was reportedly orchestrated by a single man, referred to as "Mr X" in Iranian media, who developed a network and used forged documents to obtain credit at one of Iran's biggest financial institutions.

Various assets purchased

The mastermind managed to purchase various assets across the country, including one of Iran's largest steel production companies, the state-owned Khuzestan Steel Company.

"Whoever they are, whether in the government, judiciary or parliament, or those with sacred attire [clerics], capture them, try them, punish them and expose them to the people," Ahmadinejad said.

Iranian media on Tuesday published a letter attributed to Ahmadinejad's controversial chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, who supposedly ordered the finance minister to facilitate the purchase of the steel company by "Mr X".

Ahmadinejad on Wednesday rejected the accusation and warned his political enemies that he would not forever remain "silent".

"They want to accuse the cleanest government in Iran's history through a media and political war, and through lies and accusations," Ahmadinejad said.

Won’t remain silent

"We have kept silent so far ... but the ill-wishers should know that the government will not remain so forever," he warned.

In late June, Ahmadinejad had warned the judiciary against attacking his entourage and arresting members of his government, as he vowed to defend them.

"I consider defending the cabinet as my duty ... the cabinet is a red line and if they want to touch the cabinet, then defending it is my duty," Ahmadinejad said.

While it is not clear whether the scam's mastermind, identified by some local media as Amir Khosravi, has been arrested, the authorities say his assets have been frozen. The reports, while naming Khosravi, have given little detail concerning who he is or of his background.

Tehran-e-Emrouz daily, quoting an informed source, reported on Tuesday that two-thirds of the embezzled money has been transferred out of the country.

Most unprecedented financial corruption case

Iran's inspector general Mostafa Pour Mohammadi has labelled the fraud "the most unprecedented financial corruption case" in Iran's history, while influential MP Ahmad Tavakoli said the case represented "a terrible corruption disease (lurking) in the banking system and administrative apparatus".

Ahmadinejad's entourage has been at odds with the ruling hardline conservatives since April, especially Rahim Mashaie, whom they accuse of seeking to undermine the Islamic regime.

In an unprecedented move, state television did not broadcast the president's speech on Wednesday.

Government-run IRNA news agency quoted a presidency official as criticising the absence of live coverage, saying that "despite co-ordination with television authorities (to air the speech) they were not available to comment," on why they did not.

The head of the Iranian state television is appointed by Islamic republic's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Read more on:    mahmoud ahmadinejad  |  iran

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Quiz: Test your Rio Olympics memory!

Think you know what went on at the Rio Olympics? Prove it by tackling Sport24's ridiculously impossible yet highly addictive post-Games quiz!


Rio Olympics

GALLERY: SA's Rio Olympic medallists
As it happened: Rio Olympics - Day 17
Selecting 6 numbers turned Britain into Olympic superpower
Caster cranks up the heat in Rio semi

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.