Iranian oil blockade runner sentenced to death for corruption

March 07, 2016 08:13
Babak Zanjani amassed a US$10 billion fortune breaking the western oil sanctions on Iran. He has been ordered to repay funds embezzled from the state oil company. Photo: AFP

An Iranian billionaire who helped Tehran evade western oil sanctions has been sentenced to death for embezzlement.

Babak Zanjani and two accomplices were convicted by an Islamic court of "spreading corruption on earth", a capital offence, and  ordered to repay funds embezzled from state-run National Iranian Oil Co. and others.

The defendants can appeal against the ruling.

The three were also ordered to pay a fine equivalent to one fourth of the sums they had laundered, Reuters reports, citing judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei.

For years, Zanjani arranged billions of dollars of oil deals through a network of companies stretching from Turkey to Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

Zanjani amassed a fortune of US$10 billion and as much debt, he once told an Iranian magazine.

At the time of his arrest in December 2013, a judicial spokesman said "he received funds from certain bodies ... and received oil and other shipments and now has not returned the funds".

Prosecutors accused him of owing the government more than US$2.7 billion for oil sold on behalf of the oil ministry.

Iran emerged from years of economic isolation in January when world powers led by the United States and the European Union lifted crippling sanctions against Tehran in return for curbs on Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

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