14 arrested for fraud as rivalry shakes Iran
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) and Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei (C) attend Ahmadinejad’s inaugural ceremony in this file photo.AFP photo Iranian officials have arrested 14 more people, bringing the total to 36, as part of a probe into a vast, recently uncovered bank scandal in which Ahmadinejad has come under fire from opponents close to Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Khamenei for his alleged involvement in the case.Iranian officials have arrested 14 more people, bringing the total to 36, as part of a probe into a vast, recently uncovered bank scandal in which Ahmadinejad has come under fire from opponents close to Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Khamenei for his alleged involvement in the case
“Over the past three days, 20 people were summoned and interrogated in connection with the recent economic corruption case and 14 of them placed in temporary detention,” Iran’s Prosecutor General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei said, Agence France-Presse reported. A number of bank managers are among those arrested, he added.
The controversy intensified when media, opposed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, published a letter attributed to his chief of staff and principal adviser, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, in which he reportedly asked the economy minister to facilitate the group’s operations. For the past several months, Rahim Mashaie has been the target of a fierce campaign led by hard-liners in the ruling conservative camp, which accuses him of leading a “deviant” movement to undermine the regime’s principles.
“Unfortunately some are just waiting to stab the government in the back, although such efforts were and will be doomed to fail,” Ahmadinejad said Oct. 5. Elsewhere in his remarks, Mohseni Ejei said the judiciary was “not under any political pressure,” according to Iranian daily Tehran Times. He also called on the former head of the state-run Bank Melli, Mahmoud Reza Khavari, to return to Iran from Canada, where he had flown after resigning when the scandal became public.
Analysts say Ahmadinejad is facing a fresh political blow over the biggest financial scandal in Iran’s history. “Now Ahmadinejad’s hands are filled with the scam. Weakened in the eye of the nation, Ahmadinejad has been rendered impotent to initiate any political action ahead of the (March 2012) parliament election,” said a former senior official, who asked not to be named. “Ahmadinejad’s allies are determined to win the next elections and Khamenei’s allies want to block their way. That is the main reason behind the revelation of this scam,” said economist Saber Lavasani, quoted Reuters