AFP: Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday called on politicians and the media to refrain from “making a fuss” over a $2.6 billion banking scam, state television reported.
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday called on politicians and the media to refrain from “making a fuss” over a $2.6 billion banking scam, state television reported.
“Some people are seeking to use this (scam) as an excuse to bash the authorities,” Khamenei said in televised comments.
“The media has covered the issue and that is fine, but they should not drag on… and to continue to make such a fuss and uproar (which) is not in the interests” of the country, Khamenei added.
On Monday, 11 lawmakers, including influential conservative MPs, wrote a letter to parliament speaker Ali Larijani requesting a probe into the conduct of the president’s clique in the case, according to media reports.
They sought an investigation into “violations of the law committed by the president, his chief of staff, the president of the Central Bank and the economy minister,” the reports added.
On Monday, Khamenei told critics to “let the officials do their job,” while also calling on the authorities to “show no mercy to the saboteurs and the corrupt.”
The remarks come as the huge scam, widely reported by the media since early September, has provoked hardline conservatives to sharply criticise the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The fraud, billed in the Iranian media as the country’s “biggest-ever,” apparently saw a private group accumulate $2.6 billion through forged letters of credit approved by half a dozen Iranian banks.
The controversy intensified when media opposed to Ahmadinejad published a letter attributed to his chief of staff and principal adviser, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, in which he reportedly asked the economy minister to facilitate the group’s operations.
For the past several months, Mashaie has been the target of a violent campaign led by hardliners the ruling conservative camp, which accuses him of leading a “deviant” movement to undermine the regime’s principles.
On September 14, Ahmadinejad brushed aside the attacks as “propaganda” campaign by his enemies, “so the real thieves can get away,” and asked the judiciary to hand over the probe to “honest” people.
Some 22 people, whose identities remain undisclosed, have been arrested in the scandal described by a senior judiciary official as “unprecedented” in the history of the Islamic republic.
Head of the state-run Bank Melli, Mahmoud Reza Kavari, whose bank was of several involved in the scandal, has fled Iran and sought refuge in Canada where his family lives, according to media reports.