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15 Government Officials Convicted Over 'Astronomical' Salaries

Tehran's head of general and revolutionary courts Abbas Pouriani
Tehran's head of general and revolutionary courts Abbas Pouriani

The head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court announced that 15 senior managers working for the government have been convicted to prison terms or cash fines due to "astronomical" salaries they have received.

21 more managers have been indicted, Abbas Pouriani told Tasnim News Agency on Friday, May 25.

Few months before the 2017 presidential election, conservative rivals of incumbent Hassan Rouhani revealed that hundreds of senior managers of his government had been paid huge salaries while ordinary people were facing financial hardship.

Early February this year, the president of Supreme Audit Court of Iran said 397 managers had collected ca. $4 million in wages who later returned the money to the national treasury.

The government first tried to play down the numbers, claiming that only four people had received high salaries. President Rouhani himself corrected the number later by saying “100 to 300” individuals have been involved in the scandal.

He also added that people from other branches of the state have been also receiving similar amounts.

The deputy speaker of parliament, Ali Motahari later confirmed that some of those top earners were working in the institutions under direct control of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. However, they have never been prosecuted.

In August 2016, reformists, on their part, had discovered a similar case of corruption in the Tehran’s municipality which, at that time, was run by the conservative Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, one of the rivals of Rouhani in the presidential election.

Based on the revelations, Ghalibaf had sold tens of thousands of square meters of public lands to his colleagues and allies at a very low price.

The beneficiaries ranged from Tehran’s municipality managers, members of city council, some reporters with the state radio and television organization, to several employees of the judiciary.

Based on a report by Iran’s Supreme Audit Court, Tehran’s municipality has admitted that selling cheap lands to insiders cost the city $330 million in financial loss.

Chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said in September 2016 that 45 of them should return their lands to the municipality and 150 of them should pay a price difference.

However, not a single person who has received underpriced land has been prosecuted, but the journalist who had reported about the case was arrested a few weeks after the revelation.