Former Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi has been the target of a lengthy judicial investigation into his possible role in several high-profile bribery and embezzlement cases that also spill into Turkey, as well as Central and East Asia.
Rahimi has denied all the accusations and last year, while still in office, he said he would “volunteer to have my hands severed if even one of these charges is proved against me.”
Mohsen Eftekhari, a Tehran judge, told the Shargh newspaper that Rahimi had been indicted and that his case would be referred to a special court. He did not specify the charges against him.
Rahimi has reported links to jailed businessman Babak Zanjani, chairman of the Sorinet Group, who is accused of skimming up to $2.7 billion off illegal oil exports, as Ahmadinejad’s government tried to bypass international sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear program.
Analysts say Zanjani’s connections with senior officials in Ahmadinejad’s administration and in the Revolutionary Guards — a powerful branch of Iran’s military with extensive business interests — have made him a political target, especially since the advent of President Hassan Rouhani’s government in August.
“Economic corruption at this scale is unprecedented,” Eshagh Jahangiri, who serves in Rouhani’s administration in the job once held by Rahimi, told the official Iran Magazine on Monday.
Jahangiri, appointed by executive order as the lead investigator into inside dealings, said billions of dollars had been deposited into Zanjani’s offshore bank to pay shadowy oil contractors. “Up until now, these funds and proceeds from oil sales have not been returned to government coffers,” he said.
Rahimi has made no comment on the indictment and his lawyer, Mohammad-Reza Naderi, told the Shargh daily on Monday he would also stay quiet because this was in his client’s interest for now.
Last month, Turkish media reported that Iran had sent officials to Turkey to reclaim secret assets in Turkey of Zanjani and Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, an alleged business partner of Zanjani who is a suspect in a high-level graft probe in Turkey. Zarrab was detained on Dec. 17 as part of the investigation but was later released from jail, pending trial.
A report in the Yurt daily claimed that Zanjani was managing $14 billion in assets in various forms inside Turkey. Zanjani was detained in Tehran by Iranian officials in December 2013.