TEHRAN: Iran’s auditors said Sunday that around 400 public sector officials face prosecution over their exorbitant salaries — a scandal used by hardliners to tarnish the government ahead of next year’s election.
A report by the Audit Court found that executives at state-owned banks had earned as much as 622 million rials ($20,000) per month — compared to average public sector salaries of $400.
Ali Larijani, the parliament speaker, said the salaries were “a stain” on Iran’s public sector, and that legal cases had been opened against all 397 officials who earned more than 200 million rials.
“I hope (the report) will be the source of fundamental reform in the country so that individuals cannot take advantage (of the system),” he said, according to the Fars news agency.
“So far 50 billion rials of unconventional salaries have been refunded to the Treasury and the rest must be refunded as well,” he said.
The scandal broke in May when leaked payslips were published by conservative media outlets. Including bonuses, one bank director was shown to have earned $60,000 a month.
It was considered a major blow to President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who came to power in 2013 promising to tackle the vast corruption in Iran’s institutions.
Several executives were sacked and the entire management of Iran’s development fund forced to resign following the leaks, while the government announced a cap on public sector salaries of 189 million rials, and 100 million rials for those in political roles.
Iran’s powerful conservative lobby has relentlessly sought to derail Rouhani’s bid for re-election next May, focusing particularly on the lack of economic benefits to ordinary Iranians from last year’s nuclear accord with world powers.