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Former Deputy Mayor Of Tehran Being Tried For Billion-Dollar Corruption

Issa Sharifi(C) with Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf (R). File Photo
Issa Sharifi(C) with Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf (R). File Photo

Forty court hearings have been so far held in the trial of former Tehran Deputy Mayor, Issa Sharifi on charges of corruption, the spokesman of the Islamic Republic Judiciary, disclosed on Tuesday, June 9.

Gholam-Hossein Esmaeili said the hearings, with eleven defendants, are underway in the Armed Forces Judicial Court. He stopped short of identifying the other suspects but promised that the judge would soon issue a verdict.

Sharifi, a long-time associate of the Islamic Republic's former Police Chief, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf (Ghalibaf), also served as his deputy while he was the Mayor of the Iranian capital city, Tehran (2005-2017).

Qalibaf assumed the position of the Speaker of Majles (Iranian parliament) on May 28, 2020, despite the fact that his name has been associated with a string of corruption cases.

Issa Sharifi was arrested in September 2017 and was charged with "financial" crimes, after his boss Qalibaf lost his position as mayor.

The Chairman of the Tehran City Council, Mohsen Hashemi, announced on July 6, 2018, the head of the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Iran had been assigned by the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader to investigate charges against Issa Sharifi and five others accused of a 100 trillion rials financial corruption, amounting to almost $3 billion at the time.

Hashemi maintained that the case was connected to financial transactions of an economic entity, Yas Holding, a subsidiary of the Sepah (IRGC) Cooperative Fund.

However, the Armed Forces Judiciary, which is investigating Mr. Sharifi's case, announced on June 25 last year that he had been charged with "espionage."

Nonetheless, the Judiciary officials have not yet commented on the details of the charges.

In his press briefing on Tuesday the spokesman Esmaeili also mentioned a case of 650 billion rials (about $15.5 million) financial corruption, which some journalists believe is related to Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

The case was initially revealed by a prominent conservative, Mostafa Mir Salim who was recently re-elected as a representative of Tehran to parliament, the Judiciary spokesman said.

According to the spokesman, the Judiciary "invited" Mir Salim to come forward, which he accepted, testified, and delivered his evidence and documents to the authorities.

In a radio interview on May 27, Mir Salim said that one of the chairmen of the parliamentary commissions received the 650 billion rials to take back a motion concerning probe and investigation into the financial corruption case.

While Mir Salim refrained from mentioning details many journalists believe that the case is related to a motion presented to the previous parliament for investigating financial corruption in Tehran's municipality under Qalibaf. The motion, the journalists say, was taken back and shelved in March 2016.

In the meantime, a fundamentalist media activist Mohammad Mohajeri has written in a brief note that "Mr. Qalibaf's opponents have targeted him and blamed him," therefore, the case should be clarified transparently.

"If such an accusation is true", he said, "Qalibaf would resign from parliament."

Nevertheless, Qalibaf has not yet personally commented on the matter.

In one of the most recent cases revealed by Tehran City Council member Morteza Alviri, it was said that the Iranian judiciary is investigating twelve corruption cases dating back to Qalibaf's term of office as Tehran's mayor. One of these cases, Alviri said, involves at least 200 trillion rials (about $4.8 billion). Some of Qalibaf's aides are currently in jail on charges of financial crimes.