(Reuters) – Iranian hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose campaign pledge was to combat corruption, is facing a fresh political blow over the biggest financial scandal in Iran’s history.
The $2.6 billion scam has taken on political dimensions as some hardline politicians have linked the main suspect in the fraud to a so-called “deviant current,” allegedly led by Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff and closest ally.
Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie is accused by many Shi’ite clerics and politicians of trying to undermine the central role of the clergy in politics by emphasizing the nationalist strain of Iranian history and culture.
“Now Ahmadinejad’s hands are filled with the scam … Weakened in the eye of the nation, Ahmadinejad has been rendered impotent to initiate any political action ahead of the (March 2012) parliament vote,” said a former senior official, who asked not to be named.
The judiciary has said corruption at this level could not have happened “without the involvement and backing of different individuals,” a reference to high-ranking government officials.