Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei

Iran’s prosecutor general has announced the arrest of 19 people in connection with the $3-billion bank fraud, and the minister of intelligence says some of the funds have been transferred out of Iran but will be returned.

Iranian media report that Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, who is leading the investigation into the colossal fraud case, announced yesterday in Khuzestan that 19 people have been arrested, and many suspects have been banned from leaving the country.

Mohseni Ejei said: “Other who might have tried to avoid returning the funds have been banned from carrying out any transactions, and their accounts have been frozen.”

These statements were issued right after Parliament and the minister of finance and met behind closed doors with the heads of the Central Bank and the National Audit Organizations. After the meeting, MPs announced they were not satisfied with the explanations presented to Parliament.

In recent weeks, the news broke that a sum equivalent to $3-billion has been taken fraudulently through loans and lines of credit from Iranian banks, starting at a branch of the Bank of Saderat in Khuzestan.

Mohseni Ejei went on to say: “One of the effective actions of the Khuzestan Province judicial department was to try and identify the path of these embezzled funds and to stop them from leaving the country.”

He added: “It is possible that some of this money has been transferred out as payments for the purchase of equipment and tolls for factories, but we have not yet found evidence that any money has been sent to foreign accounts.”

Shamseddin Hosseiny, the Minister of Finance, announced yesterday that the main perpetrator of this fraud has been arrested.

Hosseiny also confirmed statements from Mahmoud Bahmani, the head of the Central Bank, that none of the money has been sent out of the country.