Iran Sacks Bank Chiefs Amid Uproar Over High Salaries

Iran Sacks Bank Chiefs Amid Uproar Over High Salaries

The chief executives of four public banks in Iran have been sacked amid widespread criticism of their salaries, the state-run Irna news agency reports.

An official was quoted as saying the economy minister had replaced the heads of Mehr Iran, Mellat, Refah and Saderat at President Hassan Rouhani's request.

The scandal erupted two months ago when the payslips of top officials at state-owned companies surfaced online.

It emerged many were earning dozens of times more than the average Iranian.

They were also being given large bonuses, interest-free loans and, in some cases, tax breaks.

Iran's struggling economy is yet to show any clear benefit from the nuclear deal agreed with world power last year that saw crippling sanctions lifted.

'Astronomical pay'

President Rouhani's decision to sack the four bank executives came a week after Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told the cabinet: "The issue of astronomical salaries is in fact an attack on [our national] values, but everyone should know that they are among exceptions."

"This issue must not be delayed. It should be seriously followed up and the people must be informed of the results."

Last month, the head of the government-owned Central Insurance Co (CIC) resigned after leaked payslips showed some senior managers there were paid up to $28,300 (£21,300) in March.

The company said the payslips were for the final month of the Iranian calendar year and were therefore unusually large.

A manager at a fifth state-owned bank, Tejarat, meanwhile received the equivalent of about $230,000 in November.

And the managing director of the National Development Fund (NDF), who was appointed by the president, was shown to be earning $18,700 a month.

Safdar Hosseini subsequently said he had voluntarily reformed the NDF's salary system and paid back a portion of his salary that he considered excessive.

The source of the leaks has not been revealed, but they were first published by media close to the conservative establishment, according to the Reuters news agency.

Conservative opponents of Mr Rouhani, a moderate, have used the revelations to highlight the fact that living standards have improved little since he took office.

Mr Rouhani admitted last week that the salaries were "legal", but blamed his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for first permitting high executive salaries.