The Iranian Parliament will summon President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for questioning over a $2.8bn financial scandal that has already led to the impeachment of the Economy Minister Shamsoddin Hossein.
This will be the first time that a president has been called before parliament. MPs tried to impeach Ahmadinejad earlier this year, angered by his apparent attempts to override parliament and the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The power struggle between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei that began in April is intensifying. Khamenei has also said he would be willing to scrap the directly elected presidency and instead have parliament choose the president.
Ahmadinejad’s ally and deputy governor of the central bank, Seyed Hamid Pour-Mohammadi, has been arrested in connection with the scandal.
Parliament approved on 23 October a decision to begin the impeachment process against Hossein (MEED 24:10:11). The minister will also appear before parliament to answer questions relating to the scandal.
The financial scandal involves a businessman who allegedly forged letters of credit from Bank Saderat and gave them to seven other banks. Bank Saderat is partially owned by the government. The businessman then used the letters of credit to fund 40 companies while he tried to buy a state-owned steel factory with the president’s support as part of the national privatisation plan.
Managing directors of Iran’s largest bank, Bank Melli and Bank Saderat, as well as private banks Saman and Gardeshgari, have been dismissed amid political and public pressure on the government.