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Prosecutor Says $165 Million Embezzled In Two Iranian Banks

Prosecutor presenting his case at a corruption trial related to two banks in Iran. September 24, 2019

In the second court session of a major corruption trial in Iran on Tuesday the prosecutor announced that a total of $165 million was embezzled at two banks.

The prosecutor’s office presenting its case regarding corruption at Bank Mellat and Bank Parsyan alleged that a unqualified manager was receiving 12 thousand euros ($13,300) salary monthly. This is an astronomical amount as salary in Iran, when minimum wage is around $150 a month and most salaries are below $500.

Iranian banks are all directly or indirectly controlled by the state, with regime insiders appointed as directors. The government spends billions of dollars annually to cover shortfalls at the banks, which often lend large sums to well-connected individuals and face insolvency.

The accused managers in the case set up a company called Daris Kish with funds from Bank Mellat and then used the company to acquire assets such as commercial ships.

Three of the accused have fled the country and are represented at the court by their defense lawyers.

According to the prosecutor, $105 million was embezzled from Bank Mellat and $60 million from Parsyan.

The unqualified manager, Majid Saadati was hired with 12,000-euro salary with the excuse that as a marshal arts expert he will help sports activities at the bank. As he engaged in illegal activities the bank director was warned, but he dismissed all complaints. The accused manager then ended up buying a home in London in 2015 for $6,650,000 pounds or more than $8.5 million at the time.

Iran’s judiciary has lately clamped down on corruption by launching some high-profile cases. But domestic critics say the effort is politically biased against “reformist” elements and hardliners are mostly left alone.