War of words between Iran’s judiciary and government
At a speech in Yazd city on Sunday, President Rouhani blamed the judiciary for what he described as their lackluster fight with corruption and asked about the case of $2.7 billion embezzlements.
Without mentioning any names, President Rouhani asked: “What happened to the $2.7 billion of people’s money that a gentleman who embezzled it got arrested and received a death sentence for it? Where is this money? Why is it not clear?”
Babak Zanjani, the businessman who was arrested in 2013, sold over $2 billion worth of Iran’s oil but never delivered the money to the government. He was one of the individuals that Ahmadinejad’s government used to evade sanctions.
Rouhani challenged the judiciary to answer for the case that they have been reviewing “since the previous administration”.
“Where are the big players? Why aren’t you investigating them? You can’t fool people by taking a few people to court and making some noise,” Rouhani said. Adding: “One institution has taken $974 million and it is not willing to be accountable. All the institutions that have received over $700 million must be held accountable.
In response to Rouhani’s comments about the case of Babak Zanjani, the spokesperson for the judiciary announced: “Some of the deputies and officials at the ministry of oil have been indicted, but unfortunately some of them have been promoted in the new administration.”
Gholamhossein Esmaili claimed: “Almost $700 million of Zanjani’s money had been returned to the government before his arrest.” Adding: “Zanjani was held by the ministry of intelligence and the government for a long time, but they failed to discover his properties.”
The spokesperson for the judiciary accused Rouhani of polarizing the country and said: “It has been 6 years since this government came to power. If there was corruption, why are they announcing now, telling people to go after the judiciary?”