Tags: babak zanjani | iran billionaire | corruptor on earth | death

Babak Zanjani, Iran Billionaire, 'Corruptor on Earth,' Gets Death

Image: Babak Zanjani, Iran Billionaire, 'Corruptor on Earth,' Gets Death

Iranian billionaire Babak Zanjani was taken into custody in 2013. (Wikimedia/Commons)

By    |   Monday, 07 Mar 2016 07:24 AM

Babak Zanjani, an Iranian billionaire businessman, was sentenced to death on charges of being a "corruptor on Earth," the country's Islamic justice system announced on Sunday.

Iran's Islamic court convicted Zanjani of embezzlement along with two colleagues and demanded that they return money they allegedly took from the National Iranian Oil Company, according to Newsweek.

Authorities took Zanjani, 42, into custody in December 2013, charging that he held billions in oil revenues through his businesses that operated in other countries, including Turkey, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

Iran's Mehr News Agency quoted judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei as saying that Zanjani was charged as a "corruptor on Earth," which carries the death sentence.

"Under Iran's Islamic Penal Code, a 'corruptor on/in the earth' is a person who contributes to spreading and expanding corruption on earth. Corruption is what leads to the decline, destruction, and the deviation of society from its nature."

"The Iranian billionaire has also been charged with massive fraud at Iran's Ministry of Petroleum, Social Security Organization and Bank Maskan (specializing in housing finance), money laundering and forgery," the Iranian news agency said.

Zanjani arranged oil deals in the billions through a network of companies, according to Reuters. Zanjani accumulated $10 billion, but had similar debt, he told an Iranian magazine at one time.

The Mehr News Agency said experts estimated Zanjani's assets at $13.8 billion.

The United States and the European Union lifted some economic sanctions against Iran in January after placing the country in years of economic isolation, noted Reuters. The country agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions being lifted, 

Zanjani had protested that the sanctions kept him from paying more than $1.2 billion he owed the Iranian government, according to the BBC News. Prosecutors charged at his trial, though, that Zanjani owed the government more than $2.7 billion.

BBC News said Zanjani's public displays of his wealth – which included private jets and luxury cars – in the local media made him a focus of Iranian authorities.

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Babak Zanjani, an Iranian billionaire businessman, was sentenced to death on charges of being a "corruptor on Earth," the country's Islamic justice system announced on Sunday.
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