Rouhani brother held on fi­nan­cial crime charges

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Iran’s ju­di­ciary yes­ter­day an­nounced the ar­rest of Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani’s brother Hos­sein Ferey­doun on fi­nan­cial crime charges, in a long-run­ning feud be­tween two of the coun­try’s cen­ters of power. “Mul­ti­ple in­ves­ti­ga­tions have been con­ducted re­gard­ing this per­son, also other peo­ple have been in­ves­ti­gated, some of whom are in jail,” deputy ju­di­ciary chief Gho­lamhos­sein Mohseni Ejeie said in a tele­vised press con­fer­ence. “Yes­ter­day, bail was is­sued for him but be­cause he failed to se­cure it he was re­ferred to prison,” Ejeie said. “If he se­cures bail, he will be re­leased. But the case will take its course.”

The con­ser­va­tive-dom­i­nated ju­di­ciary has clashed with Rouhani, who has sought to ease so­cial re­stric­tions and re­lease po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers. News of the ar­rest comes a year af­ter the head of the Gen­eral In­spec­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion, Naser Seraj, first ac­cused Ferey­doun, who acts as a key ad­viser and gate­keeper to Rouhani, of fi­nan­cial vi­o­la­tions. The broth­ers do not share the same name be­cause Rouhani changed his when he was younger.

Con­ser­va­tives have de­manded that Ferey­doun be put on trial, ac­cus­ing him of re­ceiv­ing zero-in­ter­est

loans and in­flu­enc­ing the ap­point­ment of two bank direc­tors. One of the bank direc­tors was later ac­cused of in­volve­ment in a “large cor­rup­tion scan­dal” by the in­tel­li­gence ser­vices of the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards, and the other was fired as part of a wide­spread scan­dal into ex­or­bi­tant salaries at pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions.

The at­tacks on Ferey­doun be­gan around the same time as the pay scan­dal last sum­mer - both milked by con­ser­va­tives to smear Rouhani in the build-up to the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in May. Vot­ers still con­vinc­ingly backed Rouhani’s poli­cies of re­build­ing ties with the West, though there were signs that the cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions had eaten away at his sup­port. A re­port by the Au­dit Court found in Oc­to­ber that ex­ec­u­tives at state-owned banks had earned as much as 622 mil­lion ri­als ($20,000) a month - com­pared with av­er­age pub­lic sec­tor salaries of $400 - lead­ing to hun­dreds of pros­e­cu­tions and a new gov­ern­ment salary cap.

There have been barbed ex­changes be­tween the pres­i­dency and the ju­di­ciary for months. Rouhani has lashed out against per­ceived ar­bi­trary ar­rests, telling a con­fer­ence that was also at­tended by ju­di­ciary chief Ay­a­tol­lah Sadegh Lar­i­jani: “We can­not sum­mon or ar­rest peo­ple first and then look for proof.” Lar­i­jani has re­peat­edly blasted Rouhani’s nu­clear deal with world pow­ers, which took ef­fect in Jan­uary 2016, as hav­ing brought too few eco­nomic ben­e­fits. — AFP

Hos­sein Ferey­doun

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