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Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars In Alleged Financial Irregularities At Tehran Municipality

Issa Sharifi (C) and Mohammad Qalibaf (R). Undated
Issa Sharifi (C) and Mohammad Qalibaf (R). Undated

A lawsuit against a former deputy mayor shows that thirteen trillion rials ($440 million) of financial irregularities took place under the watch of current parliament speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf when he was the capital’s mayor from 2005 to 2017.

Speaking to pro-reform Etemad Online on Saturday, a current member of city council Mohammad Javad Haqshenas implicitly criticized the fact that while the violation was administrative, the former deputy mayor Issa Sharifi is on trial at an Armed Forces Judicial Organization's court.

Both Qalibaf and Sharifi were officers of the Revolutionary Guard.

Haqshenas also said it had been announced in the case that "some money" had been transferred abroad but did not elaborate further.

Issa Sharifi, the most important executive during Qalibaf's mayoralty in Tehran, was arrested in September 2017. Without releasing details, judicial officials say there have been forty hearings in the case so far.

Initially, the judiciary declared Sharifi's charges to be financial but changed it later to espionage.

Referring to a 650 billion rials (approximately $22 million at the time) bribery case, Haqshenas revealed that the money was given to the brother of a former member of parliament, Abolfazl Mousavi. According to Haqshenas, the former Mayor wrote off between 600 and 700 billion rials debt of the MP's brother.

The case of the 650 billion rials bribe was initially raised by Mustafa Mir Salim, an ultraconservative member of the current parliament.

Mir Salim has maintained that the bribe was paid in 2016 to prevent the probe and investigation by parliament into the management of the Tehran Municipality.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for Iran's Judiciary has confirmed that a former member of parliament has been arrested in connection with the case.

An Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' Brigadier General, former Chief of Police, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, is currently the Majles speaker. He has filed a lawsuit against Mir Salim and three journalists who have followed the bribery case.

After Qalibaf was voted out as mayor by a reformist city council in 2017, many corruption cases surrounding his administration came to the surface. City council members alleged that corruption reached hundreds of billions of dollars.

Qalibaf himself has apparently been protected from any legal pursuit. He is close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.