Seven verdicts have been issued against former Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad for mishandling billions of dollars, announced Fayyaz Shojaei, the prosecutor at Iran's Supreme Audit Court, on July 30.
The Supreme Audit Court is not under the jurisdiction of the country’s judiciary but rather is an institution answering to parliament, with limited prosecutorial and sentencing powers.
The judiciary claims that it, too, has a pending case against Ahmadinejad, but details have never been released and no court proceedings have taken place.
The news about the verdicts against Ahmadinejad comes at a time when the former president and his associates are under increasing pressure to withdraw from politics.
Shojaei told the Etemad newspaper that five of the seven verdicts are related to revenues from oil, gas, and other petrochemical products.
Ahmadinejad was found guilty in only one case for not depositing approximately $2 billion into the national treasury. He used the funds illegally to pay out cash subsidies to citizens, Shojaei added.
The Iranian government cut food and fuel subsidies in 2010 and replaced them with cash payments. The measure was part of an economic reform for moving toward free market prices within a five-year period.
Originally, only lower-income citizens were supposed to receive the cash, but almost the entire nation signed up, and the government had no effective tools to disqualify applicants and subsequently faced huge a fiscal crisis.
In another case, Ahmadinejad was convicted for spending billions of dollars subsidizing gasoline. Some might see that as a legitimate action, arguing the money was distributed among the people, but it was a clear violation of the law because not everyone benefited from the subsidy, just those who used gasoline, said the prosecutor of Supreme Audit Court, which operates under the supervision of the Iranian Parliament.
During his presidency, Ahmadinejad was often harshly criticized by the parliament for not respecting the law. Now, according to Shojaei, the former president must repay all of these amounts.
“We have identified all of his property, but it is not even worth $500 million. … Now it is up to the parliament to decide,” he said.
“The maximum punishment that the Supreme Audit Court may impose on Ahmadinejad would be to bar him from serving in public office. But even on that, we cannot be sure whether there is a political will,” Ehsan Mehrabi, an Iranian journalist living in Germany, told Radio Farda.
The prosecutor for Iran's Supreme Audit Court admits also it is likely impossible to carry out the verdicts against Ahmadinejad since he would never have $7 billion that could be confiscated and returned to the treasury.