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Jan 22, 10:58 AM EST

Iran gives ex-vice president 5-year prison term

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's supreme court has sentenced a former vice president to five years in prison and ordered him to pay a 10 billion rial ($300,000) fine, the country's official news agency said.

The IRNA report late Wednesday did not specify what Mohammad Reza Rahimi, a top aide to ex-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was convicted of but said the verdict was binding. It also said the court ordered Rahimi to pay compensation equivalent to some $800,000.

Rahimi, who served as the head of an anti-corruption agency and received the medal of honor from Ahmadinejad, is the first Iranian vice president to see jail time.

A local court had initially sentenced him to 15 years prison, but the supreme court reduced the term to five years and three months, IRNA said. Rahimi has long maintained his innocence

Opponents of Ahmadinejad's hard-line government have long accused his administration of massive corruption. Ahmadinejad's successor, President Hassan Rouhani, in December criticized growing corruption in the country in unusually blunt terms, saying that bribes once paid secretly are now being disbursed in the open.

Ahmadinejad has repeatedly claimed that he led the "cleanest administration" in Iran's history.

Iran is in the middle of a plan to decentralize and privatize its economy following its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has repeatedly warned officials against corruption during the program's implementation, and high-profile graft cases have shaken the country in recent years.

In May, Iran executed a billionaire businessman Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, convicted of being at the heart of a $2.6 billion state bank scam during Ahmadinejad's term. It was the largest fraud case since the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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