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Iran still digging out of Ahmadinejad-era corruption

In Iran, the business and legal climate generated by sanctions led to shady business deals and opaque transactions.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures during a news conference in New York, September 24, 2010. U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday strongly condemned comments by Ahmadinejad that implied a U.S. government role in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States      REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES  - Tags: POLITICS)   - RTX10F2I

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.

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