PHOTO: President Rouhani on Monday “Payments scandal is widespread within Iranian system”

Amid a salaries scandal that has rocked Iran’s political system, President Rouhani has called for “fundamental reform” — but he stopped short of accusing any specific individual of corruption.

Rouhani’s speech on Monday was anticipated because of the in-fighting spurred by the “payslips scandal”, which began in May with the exposure of officials receiving exorbitant wages, bonuses, and perquisites. Several senior Government officials and the heads of four Iranian banks have been dismissed, and one bank executive has been arrested.

The President’s hardline opponents have used the controversy to declare the involvement of members of Rouhani’s inner circle, including his 1st Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri and his brother and advisor Hossein Fereydoun. Judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei criticized members of the executive branch for having disproportionately exorbitant salaries.

Rouhani hinted that the problem was far beyond anyone close to the Presidency, saying the scandal “is not the problem of one or two branches but is instead widespread”.

However, the President refrained from pointing at any specific agency, let alone person, limiting the political battle for now. Instead he said that corruption will persist so long as “laws, regulations, payments, and revenues are not transparent”.

Rouhani assured, “The Government pays attention to the root causes of corruption in fighting corruption.”