Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iran Parliament Raises Alarm On Widespread Corruption

Amir Khojasteh is an Iranian member of parliament who heads a special commission on corruption.

An Iranian Parliamentary official says financial corruption is widespread "in all of the ministries of the Iranian government."

Amir Khojasteh, MP and chairman of the parliamentary group for combating financial corruption has accused "some state officials" of "spreading corruption" and failing to curb it while it was still possible to do so, alluding that the situation is beyond rescue.

At the same time, in the latest cases of financial corruption two local officials were arrested on charges of embezzlement and bribery on Thursday October 31.

Addressing the ministers of President Hassan Rouhani's cabinet, Khojasteh said, "There is widespread corruption in all of the ministries and that is where combating corruption should start," The Parliament's news agency, ICANA, quoted him as saying.

Earlier, Vice-President Es'haq Jahangiri had said that "corruption is so widespread that it has reached some top state officials."

In a reference to the fact that well-connected individuals receive special treatment at government offices, Khojasteh pointed out that corruption among government officials has engulfed the banks and the customs administration where some individuals benefit from special privileges.

He called on cabinet ministers to start combating financial corruption from their own offices regardless of corrupt individuals' political affiliation.

Former MP, Ahmad Tavakoli had said earlier that there was systematic financial corruption in the Islamic Republic, charging that the "Children of many state officials are financially corrupt."

However, in the past, parliament speaker Ali Larijani and his brother Judiciary Chief Sadeq Amoli Larijani had ruled out systematic corruption in the Islamic Republic.

This comes while in two recent cases on Thursday October 31, the chairman of Mining and Industry Organization of Northern Khorasan province was arrested on charges of embezzlement, and the local governor of Chabahar in Sistan and Baluchistan province has been jailed for taking bribe, Iranian Labor News Agency, ILNA, reported.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei previously called for more serious punishments for corrupt officials. This is contrary to his advice to the media about "not making a fuss about corruption."

The fact that many senior officials are openly speaking about corruption could signal a desire from the top to unmask and clamp down on some corrupt officials, to show concern at a time when economic hardship has drastically reduced living standards for ordinary Iranians.

Protests in the central city of Isfahan, August 1, 2018
Protests in the central city of Isfahan, August 1, 2018

During repeated popular protests this year people came out accusing the regime of corruption. Now, with U.S. sanctions making the situation more volatile, the Islamic Republic needs to placate public anger and reduce the chances for more mass unrest.

But whether the anti-corruption slogans by officials is too little, too late to be convincing, remains to be seen.

MP Gholam Ali Jafarzadeh Imanabadi has recently pointed out that "corruption in Iran is so widespread that the law cannot do anything about it."

Imanabadi has said in a controversial equivocal remark that "Combating financial corruption had better start from the Supreme Leader's office." It is not clear whether he meant Khamenei should be the flag-bearer of anti-corruption measures, or he wanted Khamenei to combat corruption in his own office.

Outspoken regime insider turned critic Abolfazl Qadiani has accused the Islamic Republic of "A widespread, deep-rooted financial corruption unprecedented in Iran's modern history, and systematic plundering of public assets by regime officials," and called for "reforming the laws that give way to despotism, and putting an end to tyranny," as the "definitive solution to Iran's problems."

In a highly critical open letter released in the Summer of 2018, Qadiani said, "Ayatollah Khamenei chants slogans in support of social justice, but gives hefty privileges to individuals close to him or linked to his office in order to buy their loyalty," warning that that the practice destroys productive economic activity.

The latest ranking by the International Transparency Organization has put Iran in the 131st position in terms of economic corruption among 178 countries.

According to the ITO, the Islamic republic is 113 steps more corrupt than the United Arab Emirates, 56 steps than Turkey and stands 23 points lower than Egypt.