A top cleric in Iran has tried to distance himself from a major bribery case as the man arrested red-handed for receiving a hefty bribe in euros is his relative.
Iranian analyst Ehsan Mehrabi told Iran International TV that the suspect, a chief inspector in the office of Roads and Housing Minister Rostam Ghasemi would have not been able to receive the bribe if he had not used his link to hardliner Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi.
Qasem Makarem Shirazi, a grandson of the Ayatollah’s brother was initially named as a candidate for the post of deputy minister of roads and housing, but intelligence organizations in Iran rejected his appointment.
Nontheless, the minister appointed him as an adviser and chief inspector, a post that did not need clearance from the intelligence authorities, reports from Tehran said.
A statement issued by the office of Makarem Shirazi made it clear that man was not his son or grandson but stopped short of saying that he was linked to him anyway.
The statement added that the bribe-taker had no business link to the ayatollah’s office and was never supported by that office in Qom. Bribery
Earlier, Vice President Mohammad Hosseini had confirmed that a high-ranking roads and housing ministry official was arrested but did not name anyone.
Later the ministry named the man and a lawmaker, Ardeshir Motahari, revealed at the that the detainee was arrested while receiving a bribe in euros.
Motahari wrote in several tweets that the minister should be summoned to the parliament and questioned about the case, but he was pretending to be ill.
Ghasemi’s pictures appeared in the media on a hospital bed while government spokesman Ali Bahadori was visiting him. The ministry said that Ghasemi had a back pain.
Meanwhile, Khabar Online reported that the minister appeared in public at a meeting with Vice President Mohammad Mokhber Saturday afternoon, only a few days after what he said was a spinal surgery.