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Iran Prosecutor Says Military, Intelligence Personnel Deeply Involved In Banking Corruption

Hossein Hedayati, a former IRGC officer and a billionaire involved in Sarmayeh Bank corruption case in the court March 18, 2019.

Prosecutors in Iran disclosed on September 2 that a case brought against corrupt officials of a bank shows the deep involvement of military and intelligence personnel.

The Sarmayeh (Capital) Bank is deeply mired in corruption investigations. The main issue is Iran Teachers' Reserve Fund investments in the bank and the disappearance of nearly $3.5 billion of the fund's money. Retired teachers depend on income from their investment and have frequently been protesting in the past few years for their unpaid and inadequate pensions.

Several trials concerning the bank have been held so far. Earlier this year, the bank's former chairman, Parviz Kazemi, labor minister from 2005 to 2006 in hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's cabinet, was sentenced to 20 years, and 24 lashes.

Sarmayeh Bank managers Ali Bakhshayesh, and Mohammad Reza Tavassoli have also been convicted.

One character involved in the scandal is Hossein Hedayati, a member of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, who is an Iranian business tycoon. Most notably, Hedayati has built popularity or notoriety by investing in soccer clubs. He purchased Steel Azin F.C. and invested into one of the most admired soccer clubs in Iran, Persepolis F.C.

The court has also sentenced Hedayati to twenty years, demanding the cash he had pocketed.

In the latest court session, the representative of the prosecutor, mid-ranking cleric, Rasool Qahramani, reiterated that, based on the testimonies of the accused, Sarmayeh Bank's case is swarmed with mainly retired individuals involved in intelligence and military affairs.

"These individuals frequented the bank and through collusion with the managers, committed financial crimes," Qahramani stressed.

Referring to the testimony of the managing director of the bank at the time of the crime, the representative of the prosecutor asserted, "Mr. Mohammad Reza Khani has testified that he used to benefit from the assistance of a member of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' (IRGC) Intelligence Organization."

Facing the accused, Qhramani inquired, "Mr. Khani! Was the IRGC member a banking expert to address your problems?"

However, Qhramani stopped short of mentioning the name or the rank of the member of the fearsome military-security-intelligence organization.

Referring to the involvement of military and intelligence officials of the Islamic Republic in financial crimes is not unprecedented.

The son of a former chief commander of Iran's army, General Ataollah Salehi, has also been named so far for his role in the scandal.

Gen. Salehi's son, Ammar, is accused of illegally receiving $33 million from Sarmayeh Bank.

In recent months, Iran’s Judiciary has demonstrated toughness against corruption in some instances, amid economic hardship among ordinary Iranians and widespread perception of deep-rooted corruption among regime insiders.