Iranian officials have revealed new details on a recent embezzlement case in the country’s Oil Ministry.
The spokesperson for the judiciary reported February 25 that 15 people have been indicted, including three Oil Ministry managers, who have been arrested.
Iranian MP Asadollah Gharakhani claimed a day later that a total of $60 million had been embezzled by the defendants. The main suspect, who he did not name, has escaped the country and fled to Canada just three hours after he was named in the indictment, before he had a chance to sell his property for cash, the MP told the Iranian parliament’s news website ICANA.
Judiciary Spokesman Gholmhossein Ejei says that less than half of the stolen money has been recovered so far. The authorities have confiscated $21 million worth of properties belonging to the main suspect and his family members, including 14 apartments, 25 pieces of land, seven cars, and two motorbikes.
Iranian officials had initially estimated the embezzled amount to be $30 million, but that figure was soon doubled.
According to Gharakhani, the suspect had been stealing money from the ministry for ten years, and he owned several luxury cars, including a Maserati, a Porsche, and a Mercedes Benz.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said recently that several managers in his ministry have been fired for their negligence in this case.
However, Ejei said February 25 that the inspectors and the accounting and security departments within the ministry should also be held accountable due to the fact that the embezzlement occurred over several years on their watch.
Iran has been shaken by a recent wave of embezzlement cases worth of billions of dollars. In one case alone, a young businessman named Babak Zanjani allegedly stole $2.7 billion from oil sales on behalf of former President Ahmadinejad’s government. Zanjani is currently in prison awaiting execution.