Iranian Billionaire Is to Be Executed

Country announced Babak Zanjani's sentence Sunday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 7, 2016 9:34 AM CST
Iranian Billionaire Is to Be Executed
The Iranian rial is seen in this stock photo.   (Shutterstock)

In what is surely one of the most extreme reminders that money cannot buy everything, Iran on Sunday announced a death sentence had been handed to Babak Zanjani, whose fortune is worth an estimated $14 billion. The 42-year-old was arrested in December 2013, shortly after the election of President Hassan Rouhani, who ordered a crackdown on corruption that allegedly occurred during the eight-year rule of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The BBC reports Zanjani was instrumental in helping Iran evade sanctions that would have otherwise prevented foreign oil sales. Iran's Oil Ministry accused him of withholding oil revenues channeled through his companies and says he owes more than $2.25 billion; Zanjani has denied the allegations and can appeal.

Zanjani and two of his associates were sentenced to death for "money laundering," among other charges, a judiciary spokesman said in brief remarks broadcast on state TV. Previous state media reports have said the three were charged with forgery and fraud, reports the AP. "The court has recognized the three defendants as 'corruptors on earth' and sentenced them to death," said Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi. "Corruptors on earth" 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. Iran has in the past executed other wealthy individuals found guilty of similar charges. In 2014, billionaire businessman Mahafarid Amir Khosravi was hanged over corruption charges. (More death sentence stories.)

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