Former Tehran mayor accused of political corruption and misuse of city funds

The report, published by Khabar Online, implicates that the mayor was holding forty-seven different "secret" bank accounts at the time of the corruption scandal.

By
August 7, 2019 00:10
3 minute read.
Former Tehran mayor accused of political corruption and misuse of city funds

Iran's national flags are seen on a square in Tehran. (photo credit: MORTEZA NIKOUBAZI/ REUTERS)

Former Iranian Revolutionary Guards general and former Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf has been detailed participating in a corruption case which implies that his municipality donated over 600 billion rials and 80,000 square meters of land to his wife's charity, in a report released by Iranian state media.

The 600 billion rials Qalibaf donated in 2014 equals to 18.5 million dollars in cash, however, the price of the donated land has been yet to be determined, considering the location of the real estate has been yet to be disclosed. However, Radio Farda estimated the amount of each 11 square meters of land equaling up to "a few hundred dollars."

Qalibaf, who was appointed as a member of the Expediency Council by the Supreme leader of Iran Ali Khamenei, has not responded to the accusations.

The report, published by Khabar Online, implicates that the mayor was holding forty-seven different "secret" bank accounts at the time of the corruption scandal. The Tehran City Council has tentatively approved an audit in order to investigate these claims.

Qalibaf was mayor of Tehran from 2005 to 2017, for which he and the Tehran municipality were "widely criticized" by politicians for financial corruption reasons, including his successors - which they allege billions of dollars were misused by the municipality during that time.

However, mayors of Tehran are no strangers to corruption and law-breaking. Early last month, The high-profile murder trial of another of Tehran's more recent former mayors Mohammad Ali Najafi, 67, began in the Islamic republic. He is currently standing trial on charges of murder, assault, battery and the illegal possession of a firearm.

Najafi was charged with murdering his second wife, Mitra Ostad, 35, at her home in the Iranian capital in late May - she was found dead in her bathtub with several gunshot wounds attributing to the cause of her death. Najafi immediately turned himself over to authorities and confessed to the murder, according to an Iranian prosecutor.

Ostad's family has been calling for traditional Sharia law to be applied, using the premise of Qisas (corresponding legal retribution) – lex talionis: "an eye for an eye," according to the Code of Hammurabi.

The dispute apparently stemmed from Najafi suggesting to her that they get divorced, something he claimed she would not allow –causing them to live in separate homes due to increasing marital disputes. He married Ostad without divorcing his first wife – a legal but culturally discouraged act in the Islamic republic.

State-run Iranian television station IRIB aired a news segment on Najafi which featured footage of the former mayor at the police station casually discussing the murder of his wife, which he claims to have been an accident.

The video set social media ablaze with criticism of the cavalier relationship the former mayor had with police officials and reporters during the segment. One clip even shows the reporter handling the gun allegedly used to murder Najafi's wife - even removing the magazine and taking out each bullet one by one, regardless of the effect it could have on such forensic evidence.

The status and handling of this crime has raises questions about how the country deals with and reports on domestic violence issues. Considering that most of the television stations and broadcast networks are state-run or funded, some reformists have criticized the media coverage of this issue, claiming it is highlighting the case for political motives and not reporting fairly on the issue at hand.

Najafi retired in March of last year due to an illness and possible "political pressure," according to Radio Farda. However, some members of the Tehran City Council told the radio station at the time that it seemed unlikely Najafi's illness was serious enough to cause him to resign.

Former deputy interior minister Mostafa Tajzadeh claimed that pressure by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his aides caused Najafi to resign.

"A security organization had told the Tehran City Council before Najafi’s appointment as mayor that the organization would not accept Najafi as Tehran’s mayor – and if the council appoints him, the security organization would disclose damning documents about his background," said council member Bahareh Arvin, according to Radio Farda.

Before his tenure as the mayor of Tehran, he served as economic adviser and education minister for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Regardless of the implications, the Tehran municipality seems to have some work to do on repairing its public image.


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