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Corruption Scandals Hit North Khorasan

May 20, 2015
4 min read
Corruption Scandals Hit North Khorasan

Authorities in North Khorasan have revealed three major cases of financial corruption in the northeastern province in less than two weeks.

On May 5, a case was presented to the head of the Ministry of Justice in North Khorasan concerning allegations against Jajarm Aluminum Company. The firm was found guilty of embezzling between 50 and 60 billion tomans ($15m to $20m).

On the same day, the Office of the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development was found guilty of accepting bribes and embezzling 412 million tomans ($13,000).

In a third case, Khorasan News reported on May 12 that the University of Medical Science was under investigation at the general prosecutor’s office in Bojnourd.

Khorasan reported that three months after rumors emerged about extensive bureaucratic and economic offences committed by both the company and the local ministry department, North Khorasan’s Ministry of Justice chief Noorollah Qodrati confirmed the allegations. “The charges against the 11 people accused include: money laundering, embezzlement, illegal interventions, neglecting legal obligations, squandering public resources and properties, selling products without the required warrants, and usury.”

Qodrati outlined how aluminum company employees misappropriated funds, beginning in 2010: “The company delivered its product, aluminum powder, to two companies in order to have it made into aluminum bars. The bars were then sent back to the company. The accused then sold the bars to a number of companies operating illegally.” It was through working with these illicit businesses that Jajarm Aluminum employees were able steal some of the profits, he said. The local ministry official also said that some family members of the accused were also implicated.

Qodrati failed to provide specific details concerning the misuse of public funds, stating that investigations were still underway.

Regarding the Office of Ministry of Roads and Urban Development case, Qodrati said that accusations against seven ministry employees and the managers of 16 contractor companies arose in winter 2014. The charges against them included bribery; complicity or collusion in illegal state dealing; intervention by a state employee with the aim of gaining money for their own or another’s benefit; abusing influence in state-backed business arrangements; forging documents to gain bids; and squandering of public properties and state money due to negligence.

“Sixteen contractors were accused of paying 216 million tomans ($3,000), 61 gold coins, three apartments and a car as bribes,” Qodrati said. “One of the employees of the Office of Ministry of Roads and Urban Development is accused of stealing 148 million tomans ($45,000) and another of stealing 48 million tomans ($15,000).”

Warning to the Media

However, Qodrati reminded the public that it is a crime to ‘politicize economic corruption,” warning the media and the public to avoid giving a political tint to “bureaucratic offences.” He added that the matter was one judicial officials would take care of because it was their role to protect  “public rights and properties.”

In the University of Medical Science scandal, an “informed source” told the Islamic Republic News Agency that the university faced charges of embezzling 600m tomans ($200,000) during the last two governments, during which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was president. An audit carried out on the university unveiled the illegal activity, and the current dean of the university was said to have reported the case to judicial authorities for further investigation. In the February 2015 revelations, details also emerged about one university employee’s role in the embezzlement scandal.

Khorasan Newspaper, however, reported a “sum of one billion tomans ($300 000),” though it confirmed that further investigations were underway. “It is likely that  some of the accused have already been informed,” it said.

Following the publication of the news, the director of public and international affairs of the University of Medical Sciences, Abdollah Shokrian, issued a statement: “A low-ranking employee of the university has been held responsible for receiving a portion of the university’s shares of non-medical incomes and depositing it in the university’s bank account, as well as depositing a sum in his own account.”

Shokrian added, “Once the work of documenting the crimes and the investigation was complete, the culprit was referred to the preliminary board of investigation of bureaucratic crimes and was condemned to lifetime suspension from serving at any state office.”

“Parallel to this,” he said, “the legal affair department of the university filed a complaint with the local judiciary, and the defendant was thus arrested on charges of larceny.”

Though corruption in Iranian provincial governments is widely believed to be commonplace, the three recent cases are unique because of the large sums of money misappropriated, and because the revelations of wrongdoing emerged at the roughly the same time in each case. 

Read the original article in Persian