Saturday, May 28, 2005

Times of Oman: "Iran: Rafsanjani claims riches-to-rags label

Times of Oman: "Iran: Rafsanjani claims riches-to-rags label

TEHRAN –– Leading Iranian presidential candidate and top cleric Akbar Hasemi Rafsanjani has again moved to dispel the widely-held belief that he is extremely rich -- insisting that he has spent nearly all his money.

"Before the revolution I was among the rich seminary students," Rafsanjani was quoted as saying by the student news agency ISNA.

"After the victory of the revolution, I gradually spent my assets on living, my children and the revolution. Now I only have a plot of land in city of Qom and I do not have any house or land in Tehran," he insisted during a meeting with students.

Although informal opinion polls have placed Rafsanjani as the current favorite to win the presidency on June 17, the 70-year-old cleric remains the target of the commonly-held belief that he is one of the Islamic republic's wealthiest men.

The son of a pistachio farmer, Rafsanjani went on to become a leading figure in the 1979 revolution. He served as president from 1989 to 1997, and is seeking a comeback by campaigning on a moderate, centrist platform.

According to ISNA, Rafsanjani said he had handed Iran's judiciary a list of his assets -- from both now and before the revolution. In July last year he made a similar denial of his
wealth, and challenged his critics to try and prove he was rich. –– AFP"