Mohammad Reza Rahimi
Born in 1949 in the city of Ghorveh in Iran’s Kurdistan province, Mohammad Reza Rahimi is an Iranian politician and the President’s First Deputy. He was a representative of the Kurdistan province during the first three terms of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, and from 1993 to 1997, he was the Governor of Kurdistan. In the 7th Majlis, he was the Head of the Supreme Audit Court and in the ninth government, he became Vice President for Legal Affairs. On September 12th, 2009, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appointed him as his First Deputy. Rahimi is among the few Shiite Kurds who have been able to become high-ranking officials in Iran. He was the prosecutor in the cities of Ghorveh and Sanandaj, the president of the Sanandaj City Council, and the Head of the Law Department at the Islamic Azad University’s Central Tehran branch.
Some Majlis representatives and prominent politicians of Iran’s Principalist faction, including Eliyas Naderan and Ahmad Tavakkoli, have leveled heavy charges against him. He is accused of being affiliated with a political movement named the “Deviating Movement”, holding a forged university diploma, and presiding over a big team involved in financial corruption, almost all the members of which were arrested in 2009. In December 2010, the Spokesman of the Judiciary reported that they were investigating his case of financial corruption, but, until now (early 2012), there has been no news of the results of this investigation.
In contrast to the three previous First Deputies (Hassan Habibi, Mohammad Reza Aref, and Parviz Davoodi), there has been lots of news surrounding Mohammad Reza Rahimi, mostly due to the fact that he has numerous opponents.
During Ayatollah Hashemi’s presidency, he was the Governor of Kurdistan. During the 1997 presidential elections, the Kurdistan Province was the only province, besides the Mazandaran Province (the birthplace of Nategh Noori), in which Khatami had less votes than Nategh Noori. The reformists who would come to power removed him from his post, claiming that he had cheated in the elections in favor of Nategh Noori.
In 2006, during the annual meeting of the Supreme Audit Court, Rahimi praised Ahmadinejad using language that created havoc. He said, “In Syria, one of the Muslims told me that he believed if another prophet was to come after Prophet Mohammad, it would have been Ahmadinejad. This show of affection is a great honor for us, and they respected us due to the blessing of your (Ahmadinejad’s) existence.“ Following these remarks, 70 representatives of the Majlis demanded his dismissal.
In response to Rahimi’s appointment, Ahmadinejad’s supporters refer to his support for Hashemi Rafsanjani in the 2005 presidential elections, when Hashemi visited Kurdistan while Rahimi was the Governor. Rahimi had forced farmers to park tens of tractors in such a way that one could read “Greetings to Hashemi” when flying over them.
There have been serious doubts with regard to Mohammad Reza Rahimi’s PhD degree. Nobody knows from which university he has acquired his degree. His diploma is compared with that of former Interior Minister Kordan. During Kordan’s impeachment and in response to Rahimi’s complaint against the media which had published reports about Kordan’s degree, Alireza Zaakaani described Rahimi’s degree as the second one in the same category. In September 2009, Eliyas Naderan, another Principalist Majlis representative, demanded an investigation over Rahimi’s PhD degree to which the presiding committee of the Majlis stated its agreement. Ahmad Tavakkoli, the head of the Majlis’ Research Center, considers with certainty Rahimi’s degree to be forged, similar to Kordan’s case. He has also criticized Rahimi’s false statements and lies with regard to Kordan’s degree. Tavakkoli also criticized Ahmadinejad for appointing a person who “has records of lying and taking advantage of power and a forged degree”. Rahimi, himself, once, in response to reporters, said, “Aren’t there other problems in our country that the representatives of Majlis seek to prove that my degree is forged?”
Case of Financial Corruption
The Principalist website “Alef” reports that Rahimi is the one who planned and ordered the payment of 5 million toman checks to each Majlis representative in exchange for their withdrawal from Kordan’s impeachment. Ahmadinejad issued an order to investigate this case and punish those responsible. The main individual behind this case was the General Director of Majlis Affairs for the President’s Office (under the direction of Rahimi).
Rahimi was appointed as the President’s First Deputy at a time when some representatives of the Majlis, while following their complaints, believed that he was up to his head in documented financial corruption. In the Supreme Audit Court, Rahimi appointed as investigator of the Iran Insurance Company one of the dismissed officials of the same insurance company, an individual whose dismissal was recommended by an intelligence organization. Based on false reports that Rahimi presented to Ahmadinejad, he ordered the dismissal of the General Director and Board of Directors of the Iran Insurance Company. Jahan News wrote, “The footsteps of one of the officials can be traced to the Karaj insurance corruption team. A noisy official accused of much political and financial corruption is accused of cooperation in financial corruption of a team in the insurance company of Karaj.” In this regard, “Alef” website has quoted Ahmad Tavakkoli as saying, “Mr. Mohammad Reza Rahimi! You are perhaps aware of the conditions under which Mr. Jaber, Mr. Abdali, Mr. Hamze Nevis, and Mr. Masoodi live. I, as a representative of the Iranian people, expect you to explain why several checks with the amount of several billion tomans and hundreds of million Tomans which were deposited to your bank account have been withdrawn from those accounts.”
Two letters which were written by Majlis representatives in March 2009 (216 representatives) and April 2011 (233 representatives) demanding the Head of the Judiciary to investigate the case of economic corruption was interpreted by the media as referring to Rahimi. Eliyas Naderan, in an open session of Majlis, with regard to this letter, stated, “Mr. Rahimi is the head of the corruption circle in Fatemi Street who made decisions about collecting resources from corrupt sources and about their distribution and now almost all members of this economically corrupt network in Fatemi Street have been arrested except the current First Deputy.” He further claimed that Rahimi’s supporters in Majlis were not aware of the extent of his involvement in this corrupt network.
Also, in November 2011, Sadegh Larijani, the Head of the Judiciary, without stating any names, said that important people were behind a big embezzlement case.
Eliyas Naderan, in December 2011, claimed that Mohammad Reza Rahimi, during the last days of the 7th Majlis and while he was the Head of the Supreme Audit Court, distributed millions of tomans without having financial resources. The bill for scrutiny and investigation of the conduct of the Supreme Audit Court during Rahimi’s presidency was put to vote in Majlis, but the representatives rejected it by just 10 votes.
Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie, the General Prosecutor, informed reporters of the judicial investigation of financial corruption that Mohammad Reza Rahimi was accused of and said that Rahimi would be summoned to court after the completion of other culprits’ statements.
But Ahmadinejad rejected these accusations against his deputy, and Rahimi himself called Ejeie’s statements illegal and said, “As long as Ahmadinejad is the president, I will remain his First Deputy.”