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How do Iran’s 'corrupt networks' operate?

The fight against corruption in Iran will remain a key challenge until new ways are devised to address this challenge.
A cleric walks past a currency exchange shop in Tehran's business district, Iran, January 17, 2016. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/TIMAATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. - GF20000097644

On Jan. 28, at an event celebrating 50 years of capital markets in Iran, the head of the Central Bank of Iran, Valiollah Seif, publicly stated, “The formidable power of illegal stakeholders on Iran's economy has rendered reforming the economy difficult.” These illegal stakeholders, who have also been referred to as shady interest groups, are most accurately described as “corrupt networks.”

One key question is why no Iranian government has managed to push back against these networks. Officials such as Seif only refer to “people who are addicted to free rides on the Iranian economy” without disclosing who they actually are. Occasionally, some corrupt businessmen have emerged, such as Babak Zanjani, but even in their trials, names of officials involved in the corrupt schemes in question are treated as confidential. This is a process that gives a certain degree of immunity to corrupt officials.

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