Iran sacked chiefs of 4 banks over ‘unusually high salaries’

July 1, 2016 1:00 pm

An Iranian customer speaks with a bank clerk at the Export Development Bank of in the capital Tehran on July 27, 2015. ©AFP

The chief executives of four of Iran’s major commercial banks have been sacked from their posts for receiving “unconventionally” high salaries.
Iranian
media reported on Thursday that Minister of Economic Affairs and
Finance Ali Tayebnia had removed the heads of Bank Mellat, Bank Saderat,
Refah Bank and Mehr.
“At the request of the president to
investigate the issue of salaries, the heads of Mehr Iran, Mellat, Refah
and Saderat banks have been replaced on the orders of the
minister for receiving unconventional salaries and loans,” IRNA said.
The reports said the head of another bank was also to be fired, but the decision has been delayed for “further review.”
The top bankers are accused of receiving large bonuses, interest-free loans and, in some cases, tax evasion.
Investigations
launched by President Hassan Rouhani’s government came after Leader of
the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei last Wednesday
called for immediate action.
“The issue of astronomical salaries
is in fact an attack on our values, but everyone should know that they
are among exceptions,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in an address to Rouhani
and his cabinet on June 22.
“This issue must not be delayed. It
should be seriously followed up and the people must be informed of the
results,” the Leader added.
Earlier this month, the government
launched an investigation into public pay following reports that
executives at the state insurance regulator were earning more than 50
times the base government salary.
Iranian
law states that the top salary in the government should not be more
than seven times that of the lowest-paid government employee.
The
paycheck leaks showed some senior managers at the Central Insurance Co.
were paid up to 870 million rials ($28,339 at the official exchange
rate) in March.
The company said the paychecks were for the last
month of the Iranian calendar year and therefore were unusually large,
including arrears, loans and bonuses but its head resigned in May.
The
publication of a document showed one manager at Bank Tejarat received
the equivalent of about $230,000 last November. The bank said the media
had misrepresented the document because it showed not only salary
payments but also pension amounts and other arrears.
Then the salary of the managing director of the National Development Fund, Safdar Hosseini, was revealed to be $18,700 a month.
Rouhani
has pledged to investigate and punish government employees receiving
excessive salaries. He has ordered his deputy Eshaq Jahangiri to
seriously pursue the issue and report back any “decisive measures” taken
in this regard.
“All cases of violation and abuse should be
identified as soon as possible; the wages unlawfully paid should be
returned to the public funds; the offending managers should be
dismissed; and a report on the decisive measures should be given to me,”
Rouhani said.
The government has made weeding out corruption a
top goal. In March, Iranian tycoon Babak Zanjani was sentenced to death
over fraudulently pocketing $2.8 billion.

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