By Fereshteh Sadeghi, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
The trickle of leaked payslips of executives at state-controlled banks and insurance companies in Iran has become an avalanche, claiming careers and threatening the prospects of President Hassan Rouhani only 11 months before the country’s next presidential vote.
The scandal began on May 7, when leaked wage slips from Central Insurance of Iran showed that top officials at the state-owned insurer had received monthly compensation of up to 875 million rials ($28,600). The subsequent media frenzy forced the company’s president to quit.
Soon afterward, on June 2, the payslip of Ali Sedghi, chairman of Bank Refah Kargaran (Workers Welfare Bank), suddenly surfaced on social media, showing that he had earned some 2.34 billion rials ($76,500) in the Iranian month ending March 20. Meanwhile, conservative media outlets began reporting on alleged ties between Sedghi and Rouhani’s brother, Hossein Fereydoun.
With anti-government media outlets extensively covering the leaks, public outrage grew over a bank executive receiving some 300 times more than the minimum wage of a common worker.
In an attempt at damage control, Rouhani ordered Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri to take decisive measures by identifying the violations, obtaining refunds and dismissing irresponsible managers. Rouhani said June 12, “Unusual payments, … bonuses and loans … [are] not compatible with standards of justice or commitment to the public money … [and are] considered a misuse of the government’s trust.”