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News from Iran: hunger strikes, banking loopholes, and federal retirement fund deficits

Solidarity from political prisoners during inmate’s hunger strike

Four prisoners in Iran’s Evin prison have stated their support for fellow inmate Jafar Azimzadeh, who has been hunger striking for more than 50 days.

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In a statement on Tuesday, they said:

Our fellow inmate Jafar Azimzadeh is taking his last breath after nearly 50 days of hunger strike. But the inhuman judiciary system of the Iranian regime stands over its falsehood and is not ready to at least announce through its low-ranking officials that the charges of acting against national security against workers in guild cases will be reviewed or their appeal for a judicial review will be accepted. Why? Because they intend to take away Jafar’s life and have no shame in exposing their own nature and murders inside the prisons. Because they see their regime’s authority and power in killing prisoners by torture and flogging the workers and the youth.

Jafar Azimzadeh has been on hunger strike since 29 April 2016 and is reportedly in critical physical condition.

“Multiple accounts” trick covers up enormous earnings for Iran’s executives

On Tuesday, June 14, Iran’s state-run Tasnim news agency revealed that Refah Bank’s CEO Ali Sedghi earned a yearly salary of 520 million Tomans ($170,000 USD), an astronomical figure in the Iranian business world.

The news sent shockwaves through Iran’s financial world, and compelled Refah Bank and Iran’s Rouhani government to explain the enormous figure.

Evidence has emerged that the figure was achieved by an accounting trick wherein one has different accounts for different months of the year, reducing taxes on income.

With over one million clients, Refah Bank, a retail commercial bank headquartered in Tehran, is one of Iran’s largest banks.

Labor Minister: Iran’s government cannot solve retirement deficits

In a meeting on Tuesday, Ali Rabiee, Minister of Labor in Iran, warned of the government’s inability to solve the problem of large deficits in retirement funds.

Further commenting on the mounting economic crisis in Iran, he stated that the Rouhani government no longer possesses the necessary resources to reverse the state of the economy, and public works projects could only go so far.

He expressed a lack of enthusiasm for infrastructure projects and education as a means to alleviate poverty without a total overhaul of the education system to better prepare workers for their careers.

Rabiee went on to point to a report by the Iranian Parliament’s Research Center demonstrating that economic growth is less influenced by domestic stimulus projects than by foreign investment and private sector expansion.

Due to limitations on Iran’s ability to attract foreign investment, potential solutions to Iran’s economic problems may continue unabated.

Rabiee also said that the deficit in retirement and social security funds, which cover 80 million Iranians, has amounted to about 36 billion Tomans.

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