Accusations of Corruption grow at Bank Mellat

By Arash Karami, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

Tehran public prosecutor Abbas Jaffar Dowlatabadi sat down with reporters and divulged new information about the corruption cases that have rocked Iran in recent weeks.

On the arrests at Bank Mellat, Dowlatabadi said that it was related to the “movement of 800 billion toman” (approximately $258 million at today’s exchange rate). Reiterating comments by the judiciary, he added that four people in total have been arrested but a number of other suspects are outside of the country.

The Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) recently arrested the former managing director of Bank Mellat, Ali Rasteghar Sorkhei, and his deputy. IRGC commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jaffari said that Rasteghar Sorkhei was linked to an “organized group of banking corruption.”

Dowlatabadi did not explain what the “movement” of money entailed but said that “the development and investigation” into such a case is one of the challenges that judicial authorities have. He added that the prosecutor’s office had requested that Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Teyebnia and governor of the Central Bank Valiollah Seif present reports “about the actions of the accused.”

Dowlatabadi also asked regulatory authorities, particularly at the Central Bank, to take steps to prevent future violations of this kind, saying, “When the regulatory officials of the banks, financial and credit institutions do not perform their basic duties, the courts have no choice but to get involved and defend the people.”

Jaffari had previously said “other officials” were involved, though it is not clear how deep into the administration the charges will go. Conservative media have for months been trying to link President Hassan Rouhani’s brother and special advisor, Hossein Fereydoun, to various corruption allegations.

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