31 arrested for links to Iran’s embezzlement scandal

31 arrested for links to Iran’s embezzlement scandal
# 25 October 2011 18:55 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. A total of 31 people have been arrested and another 67 questioned for suspected links to Iran’s 2. 6-billion-U.S.-dollar embezzlement case, Iranian prosecutor general Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei said Tuesday, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

Mohseni-Ejei, who was assigned on Sept. 15 to exclusively investigate the embezzlement case, did not elaborate on the identity of the detained or questioned people, while Iranian media said there are a number of governmental officials and famous businessmen involved in the scam, which is said to be one of the biggest frauds in the history of the Islamic Republic.

According to media reports, nearly 2.6 billion U.S. dollars were swindled out of several Iranian banks in more than two years by a company named Amir Mansour Aria, whose owner took advantage of some governmental recommendations to purchase assets of some governmental companies, including an Iranian steel production company, Khuzestan Steel Company.

Iranian Central Bank governor Mahmoud Bahmani said that the owner also attempted to establish a bank but failed.

The prosecutor general said Monday that the questioned people included Amir Mansour Khosravi, the main defendant in the case, and according to information revealed by the questioned it had been discovered that the embezzlement was a planned on.

Through the confessions of some defendants and the work of experts into the case, it had been discovered that the defendants had used forged documents to obtain credit from Iranian banks, said Mohseni-Ejei.

The main defendant in the case had transferred the received credits from the banks to its personal accounts, he was quoted as saying.

The prosecutor said that since some governmental officials are being questioned in this big case, the judiciary is under some political pressures. However, the pressures would not affect the investigation procedure, he added.

Iranian lawmakers filed an impeachment motion Sunday against Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Shamseddin Hosseini over the scandal. The motion, signed by 28 lawmakers, called on the minister to attend the parliament in 10 days to be questioned.

Earlier this month, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei urged the judiciary to deal seriously with the embezzlers.

The conservative opponents of Ahmadinejad have accused some influential governmental officials and some allies of the president of having links with the embezzlers and being involved in the scam.

Ahmadinejad rejected the accusations against some of his administration officials, especially against his chief of staff and in-law, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei.

Mahmoud-Reza Khavari, the former CEO of Iranian Melli Bank, reportedly escaped to Canada after the embezzlement scandal was discovered.

The prosecutor general said Monday that if Khavari did not return, many of the accusations will be levelled against him.

Also, the government’s special committee for investigating embezzlement has sacked the CEO of Saderat Bank, Mohammad Jahromi, due to the bank’s failure to provide monitoring tools and management.