Iranian billionaire sentenced to death for corruption
Iranian business tycoon Babak Zanjani was sentenced to death for economic crimes. Zanjani was convicted of fraud and economic crimes over oil sales in Iran. Zanjani sold oil in Tehran while economic sanctions were imposed against Iran. He was accused of fraudulently pocketing via kick-backs and bribes over 2.8 billion dollars. In turn, he used through various money laundering schemes to clean the money.
Zanjani became known for finding ways to channel hard currency from oil sales to Tehran despite financial sanctions imposed by international banks as punishment for Iran’s nuclear program. In addition to his death sentence, he must also repay the money from his illegal windfall to the Iranian oil ministry.
In a rare move, the trial was held in public and two other co-defendants were also convicted of “corruption on earth” crimes. These are the most serious offenses under Iranian law. Zanjani’s fellow cohorts will also face the death penalty.
The accused can appeal and will likely do so. He has denied any wrongdoing. He insists that the money was not paid to the oil ministry due to international sanctions placed on Iran. Major international banks simply would not transfer the funds back into Iran and he was holding the money for Iran until the international sanctions were lifted.
This case serves as a landmark decision under President Hassan Rouhani regime. He has made repeated declarations that such corruption will not tolerated under his watch. Similar trials are still ongoing. Zanjani insists that in return for commissions paid by the former government he was charged with circumventing the international sanctions in order to get money back into Iran. He was acting in turn as a patriot of Iran.
The Iranian oil ministry has viewed business men like Zanjani as corrupt middlemen who used the system to advance their own personal wealth. They are viewed as corrupt parasites who such the blood out of Iran. They are not patriots as Zanjani claims.
The prosecution of such individuals as Zanjani sends a clear message to the international community. Iran is attempting the purge such corrupt practices from the Iranian government. Kick-backs and such commissions will not be necessary moving forward in Iran. Such corrupt third parties will not be necessary in light of recent reforms in Iranian nuclear policy. Iran is attempting to move forward and put nearly 40 years of economic sanctions behind them.
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