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Tehran MP Accuses His Peers Of Receiving Bribes

Outspoken Iranian MP Mahmood Sadeghi. File photo

Tehran’s outspoken representative to parliament, Mahmoud Sadeghi has accused his colleagues of receiving bribes to shelve a parliamentary motion aimed at investigating law violations at the capital city’s municipality.

In one of the most explicit comments on corruption in the Islamic Republic, so far, Mahmoud Sadeghi lambasted an “unknown number of MPs” for bribery to cover up mismanagement at Tehran’s City Hall.

Sadeghi was addressing “Corruption: The Islamic Republic’s Trans-Partisan Issue”, a gathering held at state-run Iran News Agency (IRNA) when he delivered his fiery speech.

Pro-reform Sadeghi, the leader of parliament’s faction for economic reform, transparency and financial discipline, maintained, “An MP secured an over-construction permit worth 10 billion rials (roughly $250,000) and several others received $1200 debit cards, each.”

Mahmoud Sadeghi admitted that while the case concerning the MP receiving the over-construction permit is well documented, there is no evidence on the debit cards distributed among the MPs.

“While reviewing a parliamentary motion aimed at fighting violations at Tehran municipality, we encountered a ‘corruption network’ that was ready to bribe the MPs”, Tabnak, news website cited Sadeghi as saying.

“Our information on bribing MPs is based on reports and testimonies filed by parliament’s personnel, while we have also witnessed signs of corruption and wrongdoing during the debates and voting procedures,” during debate on a motion to form a special commission comprised of MPs to investigate corruption at Tehran municipality, Sadeghi said, without further elaboration.

The parliamentary motion was shelved because conservative legislators vehemently opposed it.

Allegations against corruption in Tehran municipality gained momentum last August when a pro-reform ally of President Hassan Rouhani, MIT educated Mohammad Ali Najafi replaced an Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Brigadier General and former Chief Commander of Police, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf as Mayor.

Documents concerning 20 trillion rials of unaccounted expenditures from the city of Tehran that occrued under Qalibaf have been delivered to the Tehran City Council, a city council member announced February 6.

This amount would have been more than $55 million at the time and around $43 million in current exchange rate.

The documents were classified, but City Council Member Hassan Rabati disclosed that some are related to expenses for contractors assigned to implement projects for the city without legal contracts.

“Now it’s up to the city council to decide the next steps,” Rabati said. The steps are yet to be taken.

Earlier in August 2017, Qalibaf’s successor, Najafi had reported in his first press conference as Mayor of Tehran, “A special committee has been formed to investigate the scandal at City Hall that’s being called an ‘Astronomical Property Sellout’ [of state owned assets to entities aligned with the conservatives].”

The special committee also never reported on its finding, if any.

Months later, Najafi, under heavy pressure from IRGC, judiciary and other close allies of the Islamic republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was forced to resign.

Najafi left Tehran City Hall while Khamenei had indefinitely postponed a scheduled meeting with him and Tehran city councilors.

The row over “astronomical corruption in Tehran City Hall” died down after another pro-reform figure took the helm at the municipality.

Nevertheless, Sadeghi’s new comments, as well as remarks made by the chairman of Tehran City Council (TCC), have once again placed the scandal under spotlights.

“The Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered the country’s Armed Forces Chief of Staff, IRGC Major General Hossein Baqeri to oversee the legal procedure against “Yas Holding”, one of the municipality’s contractors,” the Chairman of TCC Mohsen Hashemi said on July 7.

“Five suspects, including Qalibaf’s deputy, Eissa Sharifi have been detained, so far,” Hashemi maintained, adding, “Several companies connected with IRGC’s Cooperative Fund owe huge sums of money to the municipality,” Hashemi noted, elaborating, “Yas Holding, for example, owes nearly 45 trillion rials (roughly $ 11 billion) to the municipality, but denies the figure.”

A day later, Tehran’s Prosecutor-General, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi tacitly confirmed Hashemi’s comments and said the legal cases against several suspects charged with financial corruption in the capital’s municipality have been delivered to the Military Prosecutor’s office.

Jafari Dolatabadi did not name the suspects, but, apparently, all of them have a military background and are going to be court martialed, after Ayatollah Khamenei’s approval.

It is not clear why the Supreme Leader has changed his attitude and endorsed legal action against the accused.