A 42-year-old billionaire Iranian businessman Babak Zanjani has been sentenced to death on corruption charges.
Zanjani, who was arrested in December 2013, is accused of withholding billions of revenue earned through his web of companies particularly during the prolonged period of international sanctions. He denies these allegations.
Quoting Iran’s justice officials, BBC reported that Zanjani, who is Iran’s one of the most richest men, was blacklisted by the US and EU for helping Iran evade oil sanctions.
Two others have also been sentenced to death along with him and all were ordered to repay embezzled funds. The convicts have the right to appeal their death sentences.
Zanjani had confessed to using his companies in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Malaysia to sell millions of barrels of Iranian oil on behalf of the government since 2010.
The billionaire businessman, for his part, argued that that international sanctions were preventing him from handing over $1.2bn still owed to the government.
But at his recent trial, prosecutors said that the amount owed by him to the government stood at $2.7bn in oil revenue.
Zanjani was arrested a day after President Hassan Rouhani ordered his government to fight “financial corruption”, particularly “privileged figures” who had “taken advantage of economic sanctions” under the previous government.