A session of the Iranian parliament

Iranian MPs Given SUVs In Industry Ministry Bribe Scandal

Thursday, 04/27/2023

A media frenzy has ensued following a lawmaker’s revelations that dozens of MPs have been given SUVs to scrap an impeachment motion.

Ahmad Alirezabeigi, an MP representing Tabriz, revealed on Wednesday that the Industry Ministry gave at least 70 SUVs to parliamentarians to annul the motion against the Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade, Reza Fatemi Amin, about five months ago, when he was on the brink of an imminent impeachment.

The issue has been raised now Amin is facing another wave of criticism and is about to be impeached again, with several MPs asking questions about the SUV scandal. It is the first time corruption has been so openly addressed in spite of it being a historic trend in the regime.

Alirezabeigi called it a “tradition in the parliament” whenever the issue of impeachment is brought up. “Some people gain privileges on various excuses to compromise and undermine the supervisory duty of the parliament.”

The lawmaker also dismissed claims by other colleagues that Khamenei's recent statement about putting an end to disputes between the three powers of the government meant that he had ordered the Majles to stop the impeachment of the industry minister. Along with other MPs, Alirezabeigi is determined that the impeachment will move forward, accusing the minister of unethical policies including raising car prices.

Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade Reza Fatemi Amin at the parliament

In a bold statement, he said: “Fatemi Amin has given 75 Chinese SUVs to the representatives as a gift, of course I do not have any documents at the moment, but documents are available in the Article 90 Committee and the case is under investigation,” adding that the cars were Bahman Fidelity Prime, a 7-seater mid-size crossover produced by Jetour, and Bahman Dignity Prime, a mid-size crossover produced by the Chinese automaker Dongfeng Motor.

Offering valuable background on the case, Ahmad Rasoulinejad, another leading lawmaker, said that until the last night before the session to discuss the impeachment in December 2022, more than 60 percent of MPs were in favor of the motion but at the last moment it was announced there were not enough votes to go ahead with the impeachment, the government announcing only 85 in favor and 185 against. Rasoulinejad said: “I consider that day a dark day in the history of the parliament.” 

Article 90 Committee of the Constitution, tasked with dealing with public complaints about the work of the three branches – namely executive run by Raisi, judiciary run by Ejei, and legislature run by Speaker Bagher Ghalibaf – denied the existence of such a case.

The Majles (parliament) began to warn President Ebrahim Raisi about the weak performance of his economic team including the ministers of industry (Reza Fatemi Amin), labor (Hojjat Abdolmaleki) and economy (Ehsan Khandouzi), two months after Raisi took office in August 2021.

Since then, Raisi has said repeatedly that he is planning a reshuffle but has not done anything yet. He had promised both during his election campaign and in the following months that he was adamant to improve the critical economic situation of ordinary people. In the meantime, lawmakers have renewed their calls for impeachments almost every month.

The lawmakers' heightened attacks on the government might be a tactic by the members of the parliament to distance themselves from the inefficient government during their last year in the Majles, in a bid to increase the chance of their re-election.

On Thursday, several government and parliament officials denied the claims, with calls for legal action against the "slanderers." Prominent hardline lawmaker Nezamoddin Mousavi, the parliament’s presidium spokesperson, said Thursday that the parliament has investigated the claims and they are not true.

Amin wrote to the head of the judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, urging immediate punishment. The letter, published Thursday, said: “Considering the damage of such statements to the public trust and the weakening of the country's social capital, please order that this issue be investigated as soon as possible, and legal measures be taken to prosecute the wrongdoers.”

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