Iran Parliament starts impeachment of economy mini

Last Updated: Monday, October 24, 2011 - 00:44

Tehran: Iran`s parliament today launched an
impeachment process against the economy minister for alleged
laxity in monitoring banks, in fallout from a 1.6-billion-
dollar embezzlement scandal.

The impeachment of Economy Minister Shamseddin Hosseini
will focus on his alleged lax oversight of banks and handing
out posts to individuals without properly vetting them, the
state television`s website reported.

The minister must appear before parliament within 10
days.

In mid-September, officials began a probe into
allegations that a private group had amassed trillions of
rials through forged letters of credit approved by half a
dozen Iranian banks.

Revelations of the scam, which had initially been
estimated at USD 2.6 billion and billed as Iran`s biggest
ever, caused a media storm and prompted the country`s supreme
leader to call for restraint as investigations continued.

A member of parliament`s presiding board, Omidvar Rezai,
was quoted by local media as saying today: "The minister will
(also) be questioned... regarding his failure to resist
pressure exerted by executive officials."

Media opposed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have
published a letter attributed to his chief of staff and
principal adviser, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, in which he
reportedly asked Hosseini to facilitate the accused group`s
operations.

For the past several months, Mashaie has been the target
of a fierce campaign led by hardliners in the ruling
conservative camp, who accuse him of leading a "current of
deviation" to undermine the regime`s principles.

Ahmadinejad, whose decision to stand by Mashaie has
angered conservatives, also slammed the new charges against
his government.

In an interview with CNN, a transcript of which was
published by Iranian media, Ahmadinejad said Saturday he
expected the judiciary would clear all members of his
government of involvement in the scam.

Parliamentary impeachment of ministers is relatively
common in Iran, where the government and parliament
traditionally have an uneasy relationship.

The last official to have paid the price was transport
minister Hamid Behbahan, who was impeached and sacked by
parliament in February after a deadly plane crash.

PTI



First Published: Monday, October 24, 2011 - 00:44

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