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Audit Court Rules Ahmadinejad Must Repay $1.3 Billion

Former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L) meeting with his close aide Hamid Baghaei just after his release from detention, on July 26, 2017.

Iranian parliament’s Audit Court has announced that former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in the last 18 months of his presidency, spent 4.6 trillion tomans or approximately $1.3 billion of Iran’s oil income “illegally”.

On Wednesday, parliament’s news website published the report of the court about “oil related infractions” of the Ahmadinejad government.

The court has ordered the former president to repay $1.3 billion to the treasury. The ruling accuses Ahmadinejad that during his tenure oil revenues were spent without proper transfer from the oil ministry to the treasury.

Although the court has found Ahmadinejad directly responsible, it has not issued any other measures against him.

Parliament’s Audit Court has limited powers of punishment. It can reduce an official’s pay or at most fire officials from government jobs, but it is not empowered to issue harsher verdicts.

The court has alleged that in one kind of illegal activity, Ahmadinejad’s government swapped unrefined oil with imports of gasoline and kerosene, without going through the legal process of obtaining permits.

It has also alleged that a lot of accounts in the energy sector remained unsettled after the former president ended his term. In one instance, the police were given permission to sell approximately $170 million of oil and the money was never seen again.

The Chairman of Parliamentary Budget and Planning Commission, Gholamreza Tajgardoon said that the reason for publishing the court decision was all kinds of speculations about corruption in the Ahmadinejad administrations.

There are widespread speculations that corruption in this period was astronomical; otherwise how could the country be in dire economic shape when from 2005-2013 oil prices were high and Iran exported close to $750 million of oil.

On July 30, the head of the Audit Court announced seven verdicts against Ahmadinejad but the full report was not made public.

At the time, the former president dismissed the charges and threatened to disclose a “cowardly scenario” by “bands of power and wealth”. He alleged that a “cabal” was waging war against the former leading officials of his administration.

One of them, Hamid Baghaei was arrested and kept in prison for months.