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Iranian bank CEOs ousted over embezzlement scandal

(Xinhua)

10:35, September 28, 2011

TEHRAN, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- The CEO of Iran's Melli Bank resigned and the CEO of Iranian Saderat Bank was sacked on Tuesday over the embezzlement scandal, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

The CEO of Iranian Melli Bank Mahmoud-Reza Khavari resigned on Tuesday as he had come under pressure over the embezzlement case, said the report.

Iranian media recently reported that several Iranian banks were swindled out of nearly 2.6 billion U.S. dollars in more than two years by holding a company named Amir Mansour Aria. This scam is said to be one of the biggest frauds in history of the Islamic Republic.

The reports said a man who owned the company took advantage of some governmental recommendations to purchase assets of some governmental companies, including an Iranian steel production company, Khuzestan Steel Company.

Iranian central bank chief Mahmoud Bahmani said that the man also attempted to establish a bank but failed.

In his resignation letter on Tuesday, Khavari offered his apologies to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and the Iranian nation over the issue, the local satellite Press TV reported on Tuesday.

Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Shamseddin Hosseini agreed with Khavari resignation as the reports show that a major part of the embezzlement was taken out from Melli Bank, said Mehr.

Acknowledging Melli Bank's role in the financial scandal, Khavari said in his letter that while "the bank which issued the documentary credits was at the heart of this scandal, however, there was also no doubt about Saderat Bank's responsibility in the fraud," according to Press TV.

On Tuesday, the government's special committee, which conducts some studies on the issue of embezzlement, sacked the CEO of Saderat Bank, Mohammad Jahromi, due to the bank's failure to provide some monitoring tools and management.

Iranian Judiciary Spokesman Gholam- Hossein Mohseni-Ejei said that Iran's judiciary has issued arrest warrants for 22 suspects who were involved in the recent embezzlement scandal in Islamic Republic, Mehr reported on Tuesday.

Mohseni-Ejei, also the Iranian prosecutor general, who was assigned on Sept. 15 to exclusively investigate into the embezzlement case, made the remarks at a press conference on Monday.

"So far 22 suspects in the recent financial corruption have been interrogated, and arrest warrants have been issued for all of them," he was quoted as saying.

"A number of these people are being held in temporary detention, and some have been released on bail," Mohseni-Ejei said without revealing their names.

On Sept. 19, Mohseni-Ejei was quoted by Mehr as saying that a number of suspects have been banned from leaving the country and some others, who intended to transfer their money and properties, were banned from financial transactions.

The prosecutor also criticized certain administration officials for trying to divert the public opinion from the case rather than apologizing to the people.

On Sept. 18, the Iranian parliament met to discuss the banking embezzlement scam and vowed to pursue corruption in the country.

Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani was quoted by Mehr as saying on the day that "anybody in any position, involved in this corruption, cannot escape by making scenarios."

"Majils insists on immediate and just dealings with this scam and insists on trying all those involved," he said.

Earlier, head of the Iranian General Inspection Organization, Mostafa Pourmohammdi, said in a report to the parliament that some governmental officials were involved in providing facilitation for the embezzlers.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejected the accusations against some of his administration officials.

"Certain people have launched a propaganda campaign and are trying to level accusations against the cleanest ever government," he said, adding that they are accusing the government of helping thieves escape punishment.

In addition, the president called on the Judiciary to deal firmly with all people who have been involved in the fraud.

Local media said Ahmadinejad's chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim- Mashaei, and some other entourages were involved in the scam.

The Iranian president also announced his government will start banking system reforms this year.

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