In Iran, massive corruption and mismanagement have been cited as important contributors to poor economic conditions at the end of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's eight years in office. Since Ahmadinejad left office — and even before — news emerged on the scale of corruption during his two terms. The barrier to openly speak about it broke in 2011, when it became public that some $2.6 billion had been embezzled by a network of banks, led by state-owned Bank Melli, in which the chief culprit — the bank's former Managing Director Mohammad Reza Khavari — fled to Canada and escaped persecution.
Ahmadinejad supporters argue that corruption and mismanagement have always existed in Iran and that it was not unique to the previous administration. While true to some extent, the volume of corruption that exploded during the Ahmadinejad years is notable. In the words of one Iranian analyst, “under-the-table corruption” has turned into “over-the-table corruption” in the past few years.