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23:12

Iran sentences four to death over bank fraud with political fallout | World news | guardian.co.uk

Unnamed quartet to hang after £1.7bn embezzlement scandal raised questions over Iranian privatisation drive

An Iranian court has sentenced four people to death for a billion-pound bank fraud that tainted the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to state media.

Iranians, hit by sanctions and soaring inflation, were shocked by the scale of the £1.7bn embezzlement, which was exposed last year, and by allegations it was carried out by people close to the political elite, or with their assent.

Thirty-nine people were tried for the fraud, the biggest in the Islamic Republic’s history. Four of those had been sentenced to hang, the IRNA state news agency reported.

“According to the sentence that was issued, four of the defendants in this case were sentenced to death,” prosecutor general Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei told IRNA.

Two people had been sentenced to life prison terms, and others received jail sentences of up to 25 years, Mohseni-Ejei said. In addition to jail time, some were sentenced to flogging, ordered to pay fines and banned from government jobs.

Mohseni-Ejei did not name the defendants, whom Iranian media have identified only by their initials. State television broadcast parts of the trial but blurred out the faces of the accused.

The man described by Iranian media as the mastermind of the scheme, the businessman Amir Mansoor Khosravi, is said to have forged letters of credit from Iran’s Bank Saderat to fund dozens of companies and buy a steel factory from the state.

Mahmoud Reza Khavari, the former head of Iran’s biggest bank, the state-owned Bank Melli, resigned over the affair and fled to Canada, where records show he owns a £1.9m home. …

FLASH! Iran has rare lucid moment - film at eleven.

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