Prosecutors in Iran have detained a sugar factory general manager on charges of corruption, in the latest episode of what officials say is an anti-corruption drive.
Siamak Soltani who leads Isfahan’s Nakshe Qand (Ghand) publicly traded company was arrested August 22 for “disrupting the economic system”, Mehr news agency in Iran quoted the local prosecutor telling the media.
“Disrupting the economic system” is a legal charge deployed by the Judiciary in Iran to fight corruption. Authorities began arresting money-changers and traders last year on this ground, as the impact of U.S. sanctions sank the Iranian currency and began to seriously hurt the economy.
The prosecutor, Mohammad Reza Habibi told the media that Soltani and “two of his colleagues” began selling sugar on the open market for higher prices and pocketing the profits. Essential goods such as sugar are heavily regulated by the government. A state-sponsored trading network is the only authority allowed to buy sugar from factories and distribute it with a price tag set by the government.
Habibi explained that Soltani and his cohorts sold more than 4,700 metric tons of sugar for an extra $140 per ton and pocketed a total of around $650,000.
The prosecutor added that inspections in the factory discovered 1,000 tons of sugar warehoused to be distributed on the free market.
Reports earlier this year there were reports of possible shortages and media reported about emergency sugar imports to “balance the market.”
The accused sugar factory manager Mr. Sotani wrote an article in June in an economic magazine in Iran arguing that low prices set by the government leave no room to make a profit and be able to re-invest in raw material, spare parts and new equipment.