Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei

Iran’s prosecutor general called on Mahmoudreza Khavari, the former head of the Melli Bank, to return to Iran to defend himself against allegations that he was a major figure in a $3-billion bank fraud.

The Fars news agency reports that Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said: “If Mahmoudreza Khavari does not return to Iran for any given reason, the accusations circulating these days will point toward him, and the rumours we hear today will seem true.”

Khavari resigned as the head of Melli Bank last Tuesday, after being pressed about the role of his bank in the $3-billion fraud, which is said to have involved eight Iranian banks over the past four years.

In his resignation letter, he pointed his finger at the Bank of Saderat and acknowledged the role of some of his bank’s branches in “exceeding the limits of their authority.”

The former head of the Bank of Saderat, Mohammad Jahromi, who was recently dismissed by the minister of finance, issued a statement yesterday denying the charges against him and questioning Khavari’s departure from Iran. He reported that Khavari recently left the country for Canada, where he already holds residency.

Iran’s prosecutor general stated that, according to Khavari’s ticket, he is scheduled to return to Iran today, Thursday.

A Melli Bank spokesman also said yesterday that Khavari was on an “authorized mission” and would return on Thursday.

Iranian media report that eight banks appear to have direct and indirect involvement in the embezzlement, which is being dubbed the greatest financial fraud in the country’s history. The Bank of Saderat and the Iran Melli Bank are said to have sustained the heaviest losses from fraudulent letters of credit that were reportedly sold to the eight financial institutions.