TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani criticized widening corruption in the Islamic Republic in unusually blunt terms Monday, saying money once "given under the table now is being given on the table."
Iran is in the middle of a plan to decentralize and privatize its economy following its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei repeatedly has warned officials over possible corruption during implementing the program and high-profile graft cases have shaken the country in recent years.
Speaking at an anti-corruption conference, Rouhani said Iranians "should apply all our power in fighting corruption."
"In the past, (money) was said to be given under the table now is being given on the table," the president said in comments aired live on state television. "The continuation, the deepening and the expansion of corruption is endangering ... the Islamic Revolution."
Rouhani said increasing openness in government and public awareness would help fight corruption.
In May, Iran executed a billionaire businessman Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, convicted of being at the heart of a $2.6 billion state bank scam in Iran, the largest since the Islamic Revolution.
In September, a spokesman for Iran's judiciary said former vice president Mohammad Reza Rahimi was convicted on a charge that includes a prison term and a cash fine. It came after repeated allegations by foes of Iran's previous hard-line government of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of massive corruption.