Missing oil money sparks outrage

Iran Parliamentarians demand inquiry into US$1bn in missing oil revenue.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad

Iran’s Speaker of Parliament, Ali Larijani, has called for further investigation by the Iranian National Audit Office, after it claimed that US$1 billion of the country’s oil revenues have gone missing.

The audit office report said that US1.058 billion of extra oil income had not been transferred as mandated to the state treasury during the 2006-2007 fiscal year, a startling revelation for President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad with national elections due soon.

“The president may have his reputation damaged by such an affair so close to the election unless the question quickly gets answered and suspicions among the population are not allowed to fester,” said Samuel Ciszuk, Middle East Energy Analyst, IHS Global Insight.

“With record oil revenues spent on a massive number of projects in Iran's rural areas and the politico-economical interests of his allies in the extended Revolutionary Guards' networks benefitting from acquiring strong positions throughout the state and economy, Ahmedinjad is rarely accused himself of being corrupt and a dent in this armour could affect his fortunes.”

The report was handed over to parliament and read out on Wednesday. President Ahmedinejad told the media through an aide that it was a possible "misunderstanding" and that the issue was being reviewed.

Meanwhile, Iran and Turkmenistan have reached a provisory long-term gas export agreement, in which Iran will assist in the development of the Bolutun gas field in return for around 10 billion m3 per annum of gas from the field.

“Iran has long sought to secure a greater access to Turkmen reserves and will relish the opportunity to get a foot in the door, helping the Turkmens to develop additional capacity, while securing much needed gas flows for itself,” said Ciszuk.

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