Largest scam worth $2.6bn in Iran’s history

Sat 24 Sep 2011 01:50 GMT | 05:50 Local Time

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News.Az reprints an article by Mohammad Shams from REALIRAN.net.

At a time when passions around the embezzlement by senior officials of the regime, resulting in lack of $12 billion in the Monetary Fund of the country in 2010, had just subsided, a new scandal involving the theft and appropriation of $2.6 billion ensued.

In the first case, no one dared to prove embezzlement by senior officials, and preferred to forget about it, while in the second case our country's security services immediately found the culprit.

True, it was interesting for few people that ordinary workers were found guilty while the "big fish" laid down in the bottom to avoid punishment.

As of late the country's media have revealed details of arrest of 19 people suspected of embezzling public funds worth $2.6 billion, a crime which was announced by Economy and Finance Minister Shamseddin Hosseini.

Assets of billionaire and presidential ally Amir Mansur Aria, who is believed to develop the fraudulent scheme, had been blocked several days before.

The scheme that our media has been dubbed as the largest financial fraud in the country’s history involves the use of fraudulent documents to obtain credit in the Iranian bank Saderat to purchase assets, including those of the state-owned companies, such as the largest steel producer Khuzestan Steel Co.

The malefactors began to implement their evil plans in 2007, but Bank Saderat revealed it only in early August 2011. Attorney General Golamhosseyn Mohseni Ezhei already has announced that 19 people were arrested as part of this case.

The prosecutor also said that all measures have been taken to prevent the suspects from leaving the country, as well as transfer of funds abroad. In turn, Economy and Finance Minister Hosseini added that the main suspect in the fraud is among the detainees.

In a bid to calm down the public, the Central Bank Chairman Mahmoud Bahmani said that great part of the money appropriated by the crooks had been left in the country. On his part, Information Minister Heidar Moslehi said that funds worth about $25.3 million were transferred abroad.

If this scandal had occurred in a European country, the entire government would have resigned. However, our officials are trying to keep a good face saying that nothing terrible has happened and that this could happen in other states, too. This is a poorly veiled attempt to defend oneself, to free oneself of a responsibility for criminal negligence which cost our country $2.6 billion.

It turns out that a group of several dozen people, which appropriated huge sums, operated in the country for already four years, but our security services have learned about it only now.

In short, they just failed to prevent largest financial fraud in the country’s history. It is understandable since intelligence agencies had no time for financial fraud - they were actively struggling against the political opposition, threatening the regime, as well as with students who dared to publicly express dissatisfaction with existing order in the country. Maybe intelligence services were aware of this, but they turned a blind eye to what was happening?

After all, a billionaire close to President Ahmadinejad is a prime suspect in the fraud. One can assume that Rahbar, who decided to use this trump card in his confrontation with the president in a suitable time, was well aware of financial mismanagement. And now, it seems that this time has come - Ahmadinejad was made to recall who the leader in the country is by seizing Amir Mansour Aria’s assets. It is out of doubt that Ahmadinejad’s people were behind the scam.

No criminal group can afford to appropriate a large sum of money not having high backers from the inner circles of the president or Rahbar.

In what country do we live? There are quite strict laws in the country and an ordinary citizen, living in poverty, can permanently end up in jail even for a stolen loaf of bread at the bakery. However, dozens of people appropriated a huge sum of $2.6 billion for four years and they even transferred about $25.3 million to their foreign bank accounts and this went unnoticed.

At a time when intelligence agencies easily block access of Internet users to undesirable sites, it is simply impossible not to notice the transfer of such an amount abroad. Otherwise, our financial intelligence has no value. The conclusion is clear - someone at the top earned a good income from this scam. By the way, it is possible that the money transferred abroad were spent to educate more than 400 children of senior Iranian officials and religious leaders in the most elite educational institutions of the United Kingdom.

Anyway, the fact remains. Officials atop the power pyramid are robbing the country without any fear of justice and God, filling their accounts with public money. They understand that they are random people in leadership, and therefore try to derive maximum personal benefit from his position. They do not care about the people, over 50% of whom live below the poverty line and they do not care that there are so many pressing problems. The main thing for them is to ensure a personal gain. Let's remember what quarrel took place at a time of appointment of oil minister, the most profitable portfolio in the government from a financial viewpoint.

Supporters of Ahmadinejad and Khomeini almost gnawed each other's throats because of this. And all this is happening before our eyes. It is regrettable that the times of hope and expectation that we experienced during Ayatollah Khomeini’s rule are gone. During the rule of the creator of the Islamic Republic, it was simply impossible to imagine the current situation in the country. Officials and religious leaders had some ideals at least. Today's government officials and clergy have only one purpose in life - amass people’s wealth as much as possible because tomorrow it will be too late. They have only one God - money. Well, how the regime, so the morals.

This article was published in REALIRAN.net

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