A court in Iran has sentenced a famous tycoon to death after he was found guilty on corruption charges linked to oil sales during the rule of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the judiciary spokesman said Sunday.
Babak Zanjani and two of his associates were sentenced to death for “money laundering,” among other charges, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi said in brief remarks broadcast on state TV. The two associates were not identified. Previous state media reports have said the three were also charged with forgery and fraud.
“The court has recognized the three defendants as ‘corruptors on earth’ and sentenced them to death,” said Ejehi. “Corruptors on earth” is an Islamic term which refers to crimes that are punishable by death because of the major impact they have on society. The verdict, which came after lengthy trial, can be appealed.
Zanjani was arrested in 2013 during a crackdown on alleged corruption during Ahmadinejad’s rule. 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 is one of Iran’s wealthiest businessmen, sits on a fortune worth of an estimated $14 billion. He was arrested following the election of President Hassan Rouhani, who ordered a crackdown on alleged corruption during the eight-year rule of his predecessor.
Iran has previously executed other wealthy individuals who were found guilty of similar charges. In 2014, Iran sentenced billionaire businessman Mahafarid Amir Khosravi to death over corruption charges.