A member of the Tehran City Council made accusations this week that 170 trillion rials, or $336 million of Tehran Municipality’s collected revenues are missing.
Habib Kashani, who is also a member of the Tehran City Council’s Transparency Committee, told reporters in Tehran that the Municipality’s total revenues were 800 trillion rials last year, out of which some 520 trillion rials have been spent but over 170 trillion rials are missing. This includes urban advertising revenues.
The official called on the Iranian capital’s Mayor Alireza Zakani to declare what happened to such a large amount of money, at a time when the Iranian government faces a significant budget deficit. Zakani is a top hardliner, who promotes himself as a committed revolutionary.
The news came as another suspected corruption scandal broke out, with a company allegedly misusing around $3.5 billion of foreign currency obtained from the government.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Sadeghi, another city councilor, has said that the itemized list of the municipality’s revenues needs to be verified by experts. In another development, Naser Amani, the councilor in charge of planning and budget expressed appreciation for Zamani’s effort to collect more than 84 percent of the sums due to the municipality during the past year. This means that there are still more revenues to be cashed.
The reports by councilors on the financial situation of the Tehran Municipality are riddled with conflicting and confusing figures that create more questions than they answer.
However, the financial issue was not the only embarrassment for Zakani this week. Social media reports said that the mayor has recently married his second, some say his third, wife. His daughter has been quoted as saying that his first wife has divorced the mayor after she found out that he has recently married the sister of a man who was reportedly killed by protesters in Karaj near Tehran, last year.
Social media users had previously said that Zakani has a wife in Tehran and another one in Qom, as is customary for religious men who spend their time in two different cities. Some users joked that he needed the third wife for the road between Tehran and Qom.
Some social media users on the other hand called for respect for the mayor’s privacy, reminding that Islam allows men to marry up to four wives. In the Iranian Shiite sect, men can also get married to more than four women on temporary marriage contracts, taking advantage of a religious formula called “Sigheh”.
Zakani’s first wife, Massoumeh Pakatchi, is in charge of the seminaries for female clerics in Tehran.
Others, including journalist Behnam Gholipour expressed concern that the scandal might affect Zakani’s career as a politician and mayor because Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is against polygamy by officials. He wrote that Khamenei has previously dismissed Basij Commander Alireza Afshar after he found out that the IRGC officer had two wives.
Some sources have said that Iranian reformists are taking revenge on Zakani for Iranian conservatives fanning the rumor mill in Tehran after one of the city’s previous mayors, Mohammad Ali Najafi killed his second wife in 2019.
Still other social media users who apparently subscribe to conspiracy theories have said that there must be something bigger going on in Iran and the government is trying to conceal it by a mixture of news and rumors about big financial scandals including the $3.5 billion tea import case and the lost funds at the Tehran Municipality and more attractive reports about Zakani’s wives and the arrest of a controversial rapper deported from Turkey.