The general director of a major government pension fund in Iran says that around $400 million was lost either through mismanagement or embezzlement.
The official government news agency, IRNA, quoted Hossein Amerian, the newly appointed general director of steel industry pension fund that there are 800 investigations taking place to identify all those who are responsible for the losses.
The fund makes retirement payments to tens of thousands of people who worked both at government-owned and privatized steel companies. When the pension fund loses money, the government must step in and fill the deficit in addition to paying pensions of millions of former government employees such as teachers.
Because of the current economic crisis, triggered mainly by US economic sanctions since 2018, the government has been unable to regularly dispense the monthly pensions or adequately increase payments amid a 40-percent annual inflation rate.
Amerian explained that fund managers in the previous government of president Hassan Rouhani invested in money-losing government companies or simply engaged in corrupt practices that cost the pension fund 100 trillion Iranian rials or $400 million.
Officials appointed by President Ebrahim Raisi in recent months have claimed many cases of corruption by former managers, but it is not clear to what extent these are politically motivated. There have also been allegations of nepotism in the new administration, where newly appointed officials want to fire thousands of managers to appoint their own friends and relatives to lucrative posts.