2011 Iranian embezzlement scandal
The 3,000 billion toman embezzlement in Iran (also 2,800 billion embezzlement; approximately US$943.5 million)[clarification needed] was a fraud involving the use of forged documents to obtain credit from at least seven Iranian state and private banks to purchase state-owned companies. The fraud reportedly extended over a four-year period, but became more serious "in the months before the scandal broke in September" 2011. According to Iranian newspapers, Iranian businessman Mahafarid Amir Khosravi (also known as Amir-Mansour Aria and executed in 2014) "masterminded" the scam, and as of late October 2011 at least 67 people have been interrogated and 31 of them have been arrested.
Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, the head of a judicial investigations unit, has called the case "the most unprecedented financial corruption case in the history" of Iran. The scandal has also been called "politically sensitive", involving Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a close aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, opposed by conservatives.
According to Iranian government newspapers and TV channels, the fraud was planned within seven state-owned and private banks, including Saderat Bank of Iran, and is the largest and most important fraud in Iran history. The fraud reportedly was first identified at Bank Melli, Iran's largest commercial bank.
According to the New York Times and Washington Post newspapers, the embezzlement was a "scheme to use forged documents or letters of credit to acquire assets, "including major state-owned companies" or "privatized government assets", (such as the Khuzestan Steel Company, a major steel producer) at "one of Iran's top financial institutions", Bank Saderat.
According to government media, the economics ministry tipped the intelligence authorities about suspicious loan applications in the banking system and the main culprits are as of May 2014 in police custody.
Iranian state prosecutor Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje'i said 19 people have been arrested for being involved in a bank embezzlement scandal. The Washington Post reports 22 suspects "including businessmen and bank officials" have been arrested, and the chiefs of two banks have been dismissed. On 27 September 2011, Mahomud-Reza Khavari abruptly resigned as the managing director of Bank Melli and flew to Canada after the bank was implicated in the fraud. However, a spokesman for the bank stated that Khavari had gone to Canada for "ordinary business reasons".
The investigation determined that Mahafarid Amir Khosravi had masterminded the scheme, with his Aria Investment Development Company being the primary recipient of the loans. Khosravi was convicted of embezzlement, money laundering, and bribery. He and three of his closest associates received the death penalty in July 2012. A total of 39 people were convicted of fraud in the case. On 24 May 2014, Khosravi was executed by hanging. Khavari remains a fugitive.
Response to scandal
On 3 October 2011, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told viewers of Iranian state TV "People should know all these (responsible) will be pursued. ... God willing, the traitorous hands will be cut." The leader also stated the media should not use the case to "strike at officials."
The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, said that all three branches of the government were determined to deal with the recent banking scam case. Ahmad Tavakkoli, a member of parliament, said on 18 September 2011 that the embezzlement of 28 trillion rials (3,000 billion toman) is an intolerable scandal, adding that if administration officials are not able to handle the affairs, they should step down. In addition, he said that a number of members of parliament have introduced a motion, which envisages the establishment of a special committee to pursue the embezzlement case.
On 16 September 2011, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejected the accusations against some of his administration's officials. Conservative critics of Ahmadinejad have accused his close aide Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei (whom the conservatives strongly oppose) of having connections with Amir-Mansour Aria.
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