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Five Billion Dollars Missing In Tehran Municipality

Tehran Mayor and presidential candidate Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf speaks during an election campaign rally in Jame mosque in the city of Varamin, May 14, 2017

More than five billion dollars of Tehran’s municipality funds went missing during Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf’s tenure as Mayor of Iran’s capital city, a city councilor disclosed on Monday, January 15.

Qalibaf was a high ranking officer of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, IRGC, before becoming mayor of the capital.

A day earlier, the current mayor, Mohammad Ali Najafi had delivered a report to Tehran City Council, listing the municipality’s “violation” under General Qalibaf.

“There is 200 trillion rials (roughly $5 billion) difference between municipality’s income and expenses related to twelve years of Qalibaf’s tenure as mayor”, Iran Students News Agency, ISNA cited City Councilor Majid Farahani as saying.

“Some say that it has been used for paying the municipality’s overdue debts, but where was it registered; isn’t there any books and accountancy?”, Farahani demanded.

Reformist political figure and the new mayor of Tehran Mohammadali Najafi, an MIT graduate, in his first working day on August 26, 2017.
Reformist political figure and the new mayor of Tehran Mohammadali Najafi, an MIT graduate, in his first working day on August 26, 2017.

​However, Farahani admitted that in the current mayor’s report delivered on Sunday, January 14, the missing figure is much higher and the fate of $14 billion of Tehran’s municipality budget is in limbo.

The polls show that Tehran municipality is among the “most corrupt” institutions in the Islamic Republic, Farahani maintained, adding that one third of municipality’s clients have disclosed that they were asked to act against the law and regulations [mainly paying bribes].

In his report on Sunday, Mohammad Ali Najafi accused his predecessor, and his staff of “spending municipality funds in last May presidential election…suddenly employing 13,000 new personnel”, “arbitrarily giving away 674 real estate” holdings and “cheating” in managing the “Municipality Staff Deposit Fund”.

In last May presidential election, General Qalibaf was one of Hassan Rouhani’s main challengers, but dropped out of the race at the final stage in favor of another conservative challenger, the mid-ranking clergy, Ebrahim Raeisi.

The so-called pro-reform camp that currently controls the City Council and the municipality, insists that twelve-year of Qalibaf’s tenure was an epitome of corruption. Allegations of corruptions were made in 2017, but an authoritative report was pending.

During his first press conference after being elected as the Mayor of Tehran, MIT educated Mohammad Ali Najafi declared in October 2017 that a “special committee” has been formed to investigate the scandal in Tehran Municipality labelled as the “Astronomical property sellout”.

Reportedly, during Qalibaf’s tenure, estates worth billions of dollars were generously distributed among conservative city councilors and municipal staff.

Allegedly, the estates and properties were not sold through proper channels, such as City Hall Property Agency, Najafi maintained, vowing details would be published after further investigation.

So far, there has been no news concerning the “Special Committee” Najafi had announced last October.