Mahmoud Bahmani, the head of Iran’s Central Bank, has denied rumours that $2-billion has already been transferred out of the country as part of a $3-billion embezzlement.
The Mehr news agency reports that Bahmani spoke on the sidelines of the parliamentary probe into the $3-billion bank fraud. On the rumours that $2-billion has already left Iran, he said: “No such thing has happened. There is no evidence that this money has been sent out of the country.”
A Tehran daily published a report on Tuesday citing an unidentified knowledgeable source, who said $2-billion dollars from the embezzlement has already been transferred out of the country.
Iranian MP Mohammadreza Khabbaz confirmed the report today in an interview with ILNA.
Mahmoud Bahmani said the Central Bank was aware of the great fraud for some time, “But we announced it later in order to avoid alerting the corrupt perpetrators to flee or move the funds.”
He added: “The Central Bank, with the aid of the intelligence ministry and the national audit organization, has frozen the properties and possessions of Amir Mansour Arya and his company, which are accused of carrying out this fraud.”
He emphasized that the suspects in the case are under a travel ban and all of their assets have been confiscated and frozen.
The $3-billion fraud case, involving fraudulent loans and credit lines primarily at a branch of the Bank of Saderat in Ahvaz, has dominated Iranian media in the past week, and the conservative elite has attributed the wrongdoing to the “deviant current.” That is how they refer to the allies of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, specifically his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, and Mashai’s followers.
A recently published letter signed by Mashai directs the ministers of finance and transportation to immediately sign over more than half of the shares of the Khuzestan Steel Company to the Amir Mansour Arya group.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has rejected the accusations against Mashai, but the attacks against his chief of staff continue.
The judiciary has enlisted the prosecutor general to investigate the fraud case, while Parliament has also appointed a task force comprised of the head of the Central Bank, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Intelligence to follow up on the case.