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Source: Iranintl

Jun 23, 2023

Another Corruption Revelation Damages Iran’s Ruling Establishment

Author: Maryam Sinaee

Iran's chief justice claimed he is battling corruption in government bodies without mentioning cases in entities under Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s control. 

In a televised interview aired by the state broadcaster IRIB Wednesday evening, Gholamreza Mohseni-Ejei said he and the organizations under his supervision would never shut their eyes to corruption and infringements of the law, and in some cases their actions have upset the government of President Ebrahim Raisi and caused complaints. 

No mention was made, by Ejei or the interviewer of corruption cases including a new scandal that involves the family of the head of the State Endowment Organization Mehdi Khamoushi, a Khamenei appointee. Critics often allege that IRIB interviews with top state officials are scripted, and interviewers always refrain from challenging the interviewees. 

Iran's chief justice Gholamreza Mohseni-Ejei talking to the head of state broadcaster IRIB, Peyman Jebelli, on June 21, 2023

Hardliner whistle-blower Vahid Ashtari revealed in a series of tweets on June 18 that a 150-hectare piece of land endowed by a local family in Qazvin including a farm with 1,000 cattle has been rented out to Mona Chaychian, Khamoushi’s daughter-in-law, at a monthly rent of 10m rials (around $20 at current exchange rates). 

Ashtari who dubbed the case as “Daughter-in-Law Favoritism in Endowment Organization” pointed out in his tweets that young couples are unable to rent a basement in the outskirts of the city of Qazvin with the same amount of money as a point of comparison.

“The Endowments [Organization has officially turned into the back yard of corruption [-mongers],” he wrote.

The Organization has confirmed the deal but claimed that Khamoushi was not involved in it and threatened to sue the whistle-blower. 

Ashtari is a member of Edalat Khahan (Justice Seekers), a political group of mainly university students who are loyal to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and are also close to former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili who ran against Raisi. 

Gholam-Ali Jafarzadeh, an outspoken former lawmaker, said Wednesday he was barred from running in the previous parliamentary elections because he had been investigating allegations of corruption in the Endowment Organization. 

But no one is sure if there is a political agenda behind the revelations by the hardliner group. 

In April 2022, Ashtari’s revelations sparked the Layette-gate scandal that led to calls for the resignation of Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf and resurfacing of other alleged corruption cases against his family.

Ashtari revealed that Ghalibaf’s wife, daughter and son-in-law had returned from Turkey with massive extra luggage including a baby bed and stroller that formed part of the layette for his yet unborn grandchild. 

Critics accused Ghalibaf of hypocrisy for admonishing others for luxury and telling Iranians they should support domestically made products, and telling those who are suffering economic hardships to be patient, when his own family travels abroad to buy luxury products.

Some hardliners claimed that Jalili and the ultra-hardliner Paydari Front were behind the scandal. They also said these political rivals wanted to oust the speaker and takeover the Parliament's presidium. 

Ashtari has been sentenced to two years in prison and deprivation from media and social media activity for his role in “Layette Gate” but has apparently appealed the sentence. 

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