[size=36]Iran "disappeared" billion euros earmarked for import[/size]
Reuters) - A billion euros ($ 1.12 billion) earmarked for imports of medicines and commodities has "disappeared," the head of the office of Iranian President Hassan Rowhani said in a speech to ministers of industry, agriculture and public health.
Mahmoud Faisi, head of the office of the Iranian presidency, asked in the letter to explain what happened to the imports promised by those who received foreign currency at the government exchange rate, the Sunday Post reported on Sunday.
Due to the sharp devaluation of the Iranian currency in recent years, the government now allocates foreign currencies at cheaper exchange rates for importers of medicines, foodstuffs, raw materials and other commodities that are already approved.
These importers are obliged to purchase and transport goods previously approved to Iran.
The official exchange rate in Iran is 42,000 riyals against the dollar, but the market price is about 130,000 riyals against the dollar at the beginning of July, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The official price is aimed at protecting Iranian consumers from sharp jumps in prices because of US sanctions on Iran.
But Vaisy said about 849 million euros earmarked for the import of "commodities" and another $ 130 million earmarked for drugs, which were granted to companies, had "disappeared", according to the daily Al Sharq.
He accused 20 companies of not importing the goods they promised to bring to the country legally.
The head of the presidential office also sent the letter to the Central Bank of Iran and demanded legal action on the issue.
Health Minister Said Namaki has reportedly arrested a group of ministry officials for complicity in corruption plots involving the import of medicines and medical equipment, the Jerusalem Post said.
Some importers had received 2 million euros to import heart pumps, but they instead imported electric cables and fled the country, he said.
Earlier in July, Radio Farda reported that Iran had spent government funds earmarked for essential medical supplies on cigarette imports.
$ 170 million has been allocated from the government-subsidized currency to import tobacco, while another $ 16 million has been allocated for the import of cigarette paper, according to Deputy Health Minister Alireza Reissi.
The money was supposed to be spent on importing basic medical supplies, he said