During the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) public session on Tuesday, April 20, MP Alireza Beigi addressed the Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Farhad Dejpasand, saying, “The people do no longer trust you… there is no clearer reason for this distrust than the fact that 50 million Iranians have lost their capital on the Bourse, for which you are responsible.”
Earlier, in a TV program aired on Clubhouse.net on April 16, the head of Iran’s Securities and Exchange Organization Ali Dehghan Dehnavi said, “In the past year, the Bourse provided 6.8 quadrillion rials [$27.2 billion] for the economy. The Stock Market was the government’s financial instrument in the past year.”
According to official statistics, the Iranian government faced a massive budget deficit worth between 550 trillion to 2 quadrillion rials [$2.2 to $8 billion]. In an interview with Tasnim news agency on May 13, 2020, the deputy chair of Majlis’s Planning and Budget Commission Hadi Ghavami had announced that there is a 1.8-quadrillion-rial [$7.2 billion] budget deficit.
There is no identical instance for such corruption cases in contemporary history. In reality, throughout history governments have tended not to plunder their own people, and winner states instead plundered defeated rulers and nations. However, Iran is a unique case, while in its April 19 edition, Keyhan daily compared this scale of corruption with Genghis Khan’s invasion, writing, “Each one of them is as destroyer and plunderer such as one Mongol corps.”
In February 2018, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei described corruption as a seven-headed dragon. “Every time you cut one head, it still comes to you with another head,” he said. The Supreme Leader did not mention where the heart of this unbridled corruption is. Anyhow, he cannot provide a true address regarding his $200-billion capital and untransparent records of dozens of conglomerates affiliated with him.
These days, however, Khamenei and his appointees in Majlis slam their ‘moderate’ rivals for the Stock Market’s collapse. However, the people of Iran, particularly millions of plundered stockholders, did not forget Khamenei’s recommendation about “getting involved in productive investments like cooperatives and the bourse.”
Furthermore, President Hassan Rouhani played a crucial role in encouraging citizens to deposit their sums in the Stock Market. “Let people know that gold coins and dollars are not a place to invest, but the stock market and buying oil are a place to invest, and we want to help people in a safe way,” said Rouhani during an August 12, 2020, cabinet meeting.
At the same time, economists reckoned that regarding the coronavirus pandemic and its financial consequences, in particular, the increase in stock value is fabricated and bubble-like. They time and again warned over the explosion of this bubble and its hazardous results. In response, Rouhani rejected warnings and said, “Our bourse has got well… but they are angry, saying, ‘Why does Iran’s bourse get well while the bourse faces a mess elsewhere around the world?’ So, put cotton in your ears.”
Eventually, the bubble-kind increase was burst just a few months later, pushing the people to took to the streets and demanding their plundered assets. In recent months, thousands of citizens, who have lost their meager savings, have held ongoing protests in front of the Tehran Stock Market Organization.
As a sign of their anger, they had hoisted down the Bourse’s flag several times, chanting, “Economic criminals must be punished” and “Rouhani must be punished.” Recent protests are only a backlash to Rouhani’s deceitful comments, which plunged millions of people into misery and bankruptcy.
The government’s indifference toward people’s dilemmas, particularly in the case of the Stock Market, has fueled public anger and distrust, which has put further protests and much more anti-establishment activities on the horizon.