16 December AFP

Khamenei urges Iran to step up anti-corruption fight


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Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Sunday urged President Mohammad Khatami's government to step up the fight against corruption.

"I have warned state officials and asked them to combat cases of financial corruption," Khamenei said in a speech for Eid al-Fitr, the feast marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramzan.

"The problem with individuals who fall into financial corruption is not simply that they loot public property. The problem is that they create centres of corruption," he said.

The supreme leader lashed out at those who might oppose the conservative-led judiciary's drive to take tougher action against corruption.

"They will use all their power to remove any obstacle, be it religious law, the constitution or regular law," Iran's top cleric warned.

He urged everyone in the Islamic republic to support measures against corruption, adding however that the judiciary and the government should "not dishonour the individual" and respect the rights of the accused.

Over the past few weeks, the Iranian press has reported several corruption scandals involving members of the government and their entourage, however providing no details.

Oil Minister Namdar Bijan Zangheneh and Central Bank governor Mohsen Nurbakhsh have recently been in court over alleged "bribes" in oil deals between Iran and foreign oil companies.

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