Iran's Supreme Court affirms death sentence for billionaire businessman Babak Zanjani
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's Supreme Court has confirmed the death sentence against a well-known tycoon , the country's state-run news agency reported Saturday.
The Saturday report by IRNA said Babak Zanjani was sentenced to death over a number of charges including money laundering and disrupting the country's economy.
On March 2016, a primary court sentenced Babak Zanjani and his two associates to death.
The two defendants are facing charges of complicity in money laundering, forgery and fraud.
IRNA also said Gholam-Reza Ansari, a senior official at the Supreme Court of Iran, announced that the Supreme Court has upheld the death penalty for the two other defendants involved in the embezzlement case, retired businessman Hamid Fallah-Heravi and British-Iranian businessman Mehdi Shamszadeh.
Zanjani was arrested in 2013 as part of a crackdown on alleged corruption during the rule of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad .
Iran's Oil Ministry says Zanjani owes more than 2 billion euros ($2.25 billion) for oil sales he made on behalf of Ahmadinejad's government.
Zanjani, 41, is one of Iran's wealthiest businessmen, with a fortune worth an estimated $14 billion. He was arrested shortly after the election of President Hassan Rouhani, who ordered a crackdown on alleged corruption during the eight-year rule of his hard-line predecessor.
The trio was originally sentenced for being “corruptors on earth,” which is an Islamic term referring to crimes that are punishable by death because they have a major impact on society. The verdict came after a nearly five-month trial.
According to Iranwatch.org , an Iran weapons watchdog, the E.U. has also linked Zanjani “to Iran's proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities or Iran's development of nuclear weapon delivery systems,” and has helped the government in Tehran filter money to sanctioned entities in the country.
Iran's prosecutors contend Zanjani withheld billions in oil revenues channeled through his companies.
In a 2013 interview with the BBC , Zanjani claimed he was not a political person, saying: “I don't do anything political, I just do business.”
Iran has in the past executed other wealthy individuals found guilty of similar charges. In 2014, Iran executed billionaire businessman Mahafarid Amir Khosravi over corruption charges.