Iran Billionaire Hanged for Fraud

New York Times — May 24, 2014

Iran’s judiciary on Saturday executed a billionaire businessman who had been convicted of playing a central role in a $2.6 billion corruption case that has roiled the country’s banking system and political leaders.

State television reported that the businessman, Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, was hanged early Saturday in Evin Prison in Tehran. He was convicted of forging letters of credit with the help of high-level bank managers in order to get loans from one of the country’s largest banks, Saderat.

Political opponents of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have often accused him and his team of advisers of having been connected to Mr. Amir Khosravi, who is said to have earned his fortune in banking and railroads.

The embezzlement case, the largest case of fraud since the 1979 revolution, came to light almost immediately after a public falling out between Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Mr. Ahmadinejad in 2011 over control of the Intelligence Ministry, which was said to have been investigating the case.

Any involvement of Mr. Ahmadinejad or his associates was never proved, however.

In another case, the wealthy businessman Babak Zanjani, who was arrested in December in Tehran, publicly admitted that he had worked with the government in order to evade international sanctions against Iran. The new government of President Hassan Rouhani says that Mr. Zanjani owes the state more than $2 billion for oil he is accused of selling on the black market.

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