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Minister's Son-In-Law In Iran Accused Of Embezzling $50 million

Mohammad Hadi Razavi, accused of embezzlement from the Iranian Sarmayeh Bank, during a court session. May 20, 2019

Mohammad Hadi Razavi – the son-in-law of Iran’s labor minister, Mohammad Shariatmadari – has been charged with embezzlement and “disruption of the economy” after receiving 2.11 trillion rials (around $51m) in loans from banks, which he has failed to pay back.

Tehran’s deputy prosecutor Rasoul Qahremani accused Hadi Razavi along with 30 other suspects during the second hearing into alleged corruption at the Sarmayeh Bank, Monday May 20, at a special court in Tehran.

Citing the Central Bank of Iran’s report on the case, Qahremani alleged that Razavi had received 1,07 trillion rials ($25.5m) loan from Sarmayeh, and another 1.04 trillion rials ($24.m) loan from other banks.

In the initial hearing, Qahremani had alleged that Hadi Razavi had bribed Sarmayeh Bank managers, from 2012 to 2015, to borrow $25.5m with no collateral.

“Mohammad Hadi Razavi spent the loans for traveling overseas, boozing at lush parties, buying luxury cars and real estate,” Qahremani told the court.

The prosecutor claimed that Razavi deposited a part of the loans in front-companies registered under the names of homeless individuals.

“One of the companies, Golgoon Tejarat Jahan, is owned by a young orphan, and Razavi borrowed three trillion rials ($23.7m) under its name. Although the owner of the company was promised to receive 50 million rials ($1,200) in return, Razavi never fulfilled his promise," the prosecutor told the court.

But the case of Razavi’s embezzlements havs another twist, and that goes back to Sarmayeh Bank as the main repository of Iran Teachers’ Reserve Fund and a complex corruption case, which revolves around raiding the fund by corrupt bank officials and well-connected regime insiders.

Several trials concerning the Sarmayeh Bank have been held in Iran. Earlier this year, 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.

Sarmayeh bank’s principal shareholder is Iran’s Teachers’ Reserve Fund. The current legal suit was filed when an irregularity amounting to 150 trillion rials (about $3.6bn) was discovered at the fund.

The fund has 800,000 members, all employed by the education ministry or retirees, who receive annual interest based on their monthly deposits. The prosecutor claims 150 trillion rials (roughly $3.6bn) of the fund's assets went missing as a result of fraud committed by the defendants.

Mohammad Emami, the producer of the popular TV series, Shahrzad, is also implicated in the case.

There are currently at least 10 economic-corruption trials under way in the special courts in Tehran, including cases involving financial institutions and petrochemical companies