Corruption in Iran has spread and extended to “a number of top state officials”, the Islamic Republic’s Vice President has declared.
While visiting the government’s official news agency, IRNA, Es’haq Jahangiri said on Saturday, August 18, “At a time when combatting corruption was possible, it was ignored, and some top officials were lured and drawn in.”
Expanding on the issue of corruption, Jahangiri said, “Fight against corruption needs impartiality, free from factional interests.”
Implicitly referring to former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his cabinet (2005-2013), Jahangiri maintained that some top officials were involved in corruption in the past.”
Apparently, Jahangiri was referring to Ahmadinejad’s VP, Mohammad Reza Rahimi as well as his deputy for Executive Affairs, Hamid Baqaei, who are currently kept behind bars for financial corruption.
However, some of the closest allies of the incumbent, President Hassan Rouhani and his VP have also been detained for corruption, including Rouhani’s brother, Hossein Fereydoun and Jahangiri’s brother, Mehdi.
Meanwhile, close relatives of the Judiciary head, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani and his elder brother, the Speaker of parliament Ali Larijani have also been accused of corruption in the past.
In February 2013, President Ahmadinejad played a video in parliament showing Fazel Larijani, brother of Ali and Sadeq Larijani, meeting with one of Ahmadinejad’s top officials, Tehran’s former Prosecutor Saeid Mortazavi, and allegedly seeking a bribe from him. The money allegedly sought was in exchange for gaining Ali Larijani’s support for a business deal involving a company linked to Mortazavi. Ali Larijani, presiding over the session, dismissed the video and its content.
A day later, Saeid Mortazavi, then the head of Social Security Organization, was detained. Ahmadinejad strongly condemned Mortazavi's arrest, accusing the judiciary of being run as a “family institution”.
Talking about systematic financial corruption in Iran is hardly new. Jahangiri’s Saturday comments echoed his earlier remarks, immediately after anti-ruling system widespread protests broke out last December-January.
At the time, Jahangiri described corruption as a termite that has attacked the country’s body.
Several MPs have also repeatedly joined the chorus, denouncing corruption and corrupted officials.
“We have been corrupted. Corruption brings along more corruption; as poverty is followed by more poverty,” Tehran’s outspoken MP, Mahmoud Sadeqi lamented on December 17, 2017.
The representative of Rasht in parliament, Gholam Ali Ja’farzadeh Eiman Abadi also reiterated last April that corruption has infiltrated the infrastructure of the country to the extent that fighting it through legal channels is not possible, anymore.
“It will be a good idea to start fighting corruption at the leader’s (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) offices,” Ja’farzadeh Eiman Abadi suggested.
Former President Ahmadinejad has also become vociferous in the last few months, accusing the Islamic Republic’s top officials of financial corruption.
Following the footsteps of hardline Ahmadinejad, a prominent reformist, Mostafa Tajzadeh, has also ventured more blunt remarks, calling the Supreme Leader “corrupt in practice.”
Tajzadeh, 61, is a former deputy interior minister and advisor to President Mohammad Khatami, who was in office from 1997-2005.
In an open letter addressed to Ahmad Tavvakoli, a prominent conservative former MP from Tehran, Tajzadeh wrote that the Supreme Leader “is the flag bearer of the campaign against corruption only in his remarks and speeches,” but he and the authorities appointed by him are engaged in corruption.
Tajzadeh also singled out the judiciary and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which is directly under Khamenei’s control, saying the IRGC engages in corruption related to its business interests.
Nevertheless, the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Khamenei and the head of judiciary, Ayatollah Amoli Larijani have repeatedly denied that corruption has turned into a systematic procedure in the country.