Iran: Billionaire Sentenced to Death


A Billionaire Babak Zanjani has been sentenced to death in Iran. He is convicted of corruption, justice officials informed.

Judiciary spokesperson confirmed, “The court of first instance…sentenced the three defendants to death.”

Zanjani was arrested in December 2013. Allegedly, he withheld billions in oil revenue channelled through his company during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Accusations are that he fraudulently pocketed $3.78 billion (US$2.8); two of his accomplices were also sentenced to death.

All three of them sentenced for “spreading corruption in earth”.  The term is used in the Iranian penal code to refer to someone who has committed crime to the spread and expansion of corruption in earth, stated RT. They are ordered to pay their debt to National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). They also have to pay a fine which will be quarter of the sum laundered by them.

41-year-old Zanjani, one of the richest Iranian, allegedly made huge fortune by selling oil at a time when the country was under western sanctions for its nuclear problems. The tycoon once informed an Iranian magazine that he made a fortune of $13.49 billion (US$10).

Zanjani also admitted of using a web of companies in UAE, Turkey, and Malaysia to sell Iranian oil on behalf of the government since 2010. Before his trial Zanjani argued that due to the international sanctions he could not hand over $1.6  billion (US$1.3)still owned to the government.

However, the prosecutors in his recent trial claimed that he still owes $2.7 billion to the government in oil revenue. Reportedly, he was arrested one day after President Hassan Rouhani asked his government to fight “financial corruptions.” He emphasized that it is more applicable on the “privileged figures” who took “advantage of economic sanctions” under the previous government, as reported by BBC.

Zanzani never felt shy off flaunting his wealth and things were working well for the billionaire businessman. He came under the public radar when the local media started covering stories about his wealth.

The BBC analyst observes that Zanzani’s death sentence could have an impact on the country’s economy where many people were involved in avoiding the sanction. Other wealthy individuals can also be executed if found guilty. In 2014 businessman Mahafarid Amir-Khosravi was executed for corruption in Iran.

Notably the sanctions were withdrawn in January after the confirmation that Iran had complied with a deal designed to thwart its nuclear weapons development.

Recently, Australia has lifted some sanctions on the country.

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