Reuters: An Iranian court sentenced three state gas company managers to 10 years in jail and 74 lashes each for taking bribes totalling 23 billion rials ($2.45 million), the judiciary said on Tuesday. TEHRAN, Jan 15 (Reuters) – An Iranian court sentenced three state gas company managers to 10 years in jail and 74 lashes each for taking bribes totalling 23 billion rials ($2.45 million), the judiciary said on Tuesday.
Judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi said the three unnamed officials were also fined 8 billion rials each. The contractors who paid the bribes were jailed for three years, state broadcaster IRIB quoted him as saying.
“These managers were planning bids in a way so that those contractors won them,” he said. IRIB did not specify the number of contractors involved. The verdict can be appealed.
People can be sentenced to lashes for various offences in Iran, including for drinking alcohol. The punishment, which has become less common in recent years, is usually carried out in prison. Sometimes those sentenced can pay a fine instead.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005 promising to root out corruption. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has previously also ordered a crackdown on graft in the world’s fourth-largest oil producer.
Last month, four former officials, including one who held a key Oil Ministry position and an ex-customs director, were jailed for up to five years for taking bribes and embezzlement.
Iran sits atop the world’s second largest gas reserves after Russia but analysts say it has been slow to develop the sector due to sanctions, politics and construction delays.
Neighbouring Turkmenistan late last month cut deliveries to Iran, causing shortages in some areas during the coldest winter weather in decades. Turkmenistan has blamed technical problems but Iranian officials say Turkmenistan wants to increase the price. (Reporting by Hossein Jaseb; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Keith Weir)