Tehran’s Prosecutor-General, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi says 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 has not named the suspects, but, apparently, all of them have a military background. Tehran’s municipality was dominated by an Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and former Police Chief Commander, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf for more than a decade.
A day earlier, the head of Tehran City Council Mohsen Hashemi had announced that IRGC’s Cooperatives Fund owes trillions of rials to the municipality.
“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,” Hashemi said at the time.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Hashemi expressed hope that the overdue debt would soon be paid, and the municipality could use it for its already much delayed projects.
Tehran municipality and City Council were dominated by the so-called conservatives and close allies of Ayatollah Khamenei for more than twelve years.
However, when pro-reformists took over the council and appointed one of their allies as mayor last August, widespread financial corruption was revealed at the City Hall, enraging conservatives.
“More than five billion dollars of Tehran’s municipal funds went missing during Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf’s tenure as Mayor of Iran’s capital city,” said City Council Member Majid Farahani January 15, 2018.
“A special committee has been formed to investigate the scandal at City Hall that’s being called an ‘Astronomical Property Sellout" of city owned assets to MIT educated Mohammad Ali Najafi said in his first press conference after replacing Qalibaf as Mayor of Tehran in August 2017. The properties were sold to entities controlled by conservatives.
Najafi delivered a report to the city council on January 14 containing what he claimed were a list of “violations” committed by General Qalibaf while he was mayor.
In his report, Najafi also accused his predecessor and his staff of illegally spending municipal funds on last year’s presidential elections, suddenly employing 13,000 new personnel, arbitrarily giving away 674 city real estate holdings, and “cheating” in managing an employee savings account.
A week later, Tehran’s Prosecutor-General, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, called upon Najafi to immediately deliver the evidence to support his claims.
Najafi never delivered and was ultimately forced to resign last April, under heavy pressure from his conservative opponents.
Although Najafi repeatedly maintained he was stepping down due to a recently diagnosed illness, some council members insisted that the mayor was being forced out by his political opponents, who feared more revelations on their financial conduct at Tehran municipality.
Tehran’s prosecutor-general, mid-ranking cleric Mohammad Ja’far Montazeri, had earlier warned, “If this mayor is incapable of managing Tehran’s municipality, who will be responsible for [his mismanagement]? As the prosecutor-general, I hold the city council members responsible [who had earlier rejected Najafi’s resignation].”
Following the warning, City Councilors relented and replaced Najafi with another pro-reform fellow, Mohammad Ali Afshani.
Since Afshani’s appointment, revelations about financial corruption in Tehran municipality under IRGC Brigadier General Qalibaf died down.
Why the Supreme Leader has now changed his attitude and endorsed legal action against the accused, is not clear.