TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's former first vice president has been taken to jail to serve his prison term for corruption, the official IRNA news agency reported Sunday.
Mohammad Reza Rahimi, a top aide to former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was convicted by Iran's supreme court last month and sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay a 10 billion rial ($300,000) fine. The court also ordered Rahimi to pay compensation equivalent to some $800,000.
IRNA said police agents took Rahimi from his residence Sunday and brought him to Evin prison, north of the capital Tehran.
The semiofficial Fars news agency said Rahimi was convicted of "acquiring wealth through illicit methods." A local court had initially sentenced Rahimi to 15 years but the supreme court reduced the term to five years and three months
Rahimi, who once served as the head of an anti-corruption agency and received the medal of honor from Ahmadinejad, is the highest-ranking former Iranian government official to have been convicted and jailed in Iran's history.
Ahmadinejad had claimed he led "the cleanest government in Iran's history" but his opponents had long accused his governmnet of massive corruption. Ahmadinejad's successor, moderate President Hassan Rouhani, criticized widespread corruption in the country in unusually blunt terms in December, saying that bribes once paid secretly are now being paid openly and vowed to fight the phenomenon.
Iran is in the middle of a 20-year plan to decentralize and privatize its economy. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, has repeatedly warned officials against using the transition program as a chance to enrich themselves.
In May last year, Iran executed billionaire businessman Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, convicted of being at the heart of a $2.6 billion state bank scam. It was the largest fraud case since the Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.