An Iranian court handed down death sentences to four allegedly high-level professionals involved in a $2.6 billion bank fraud.
The scam is described as the biggest financial conspiracy in the country’s history, an official said yesterday.
The trial, which began in February, involved some of the country’s largest financial institutions and raised serious questions about corruption at their senior levels, despite Iran’s tightly controlled economy.
Few specific details have been released, and prosecutors have only referred to the linchpin defendant by the nickname Aria. While state TV calls him an enemy of God, he pleaded not guilty so far; although he admitted to breaking some laws, says Iranian media.
The indictment described him as head of the Aria Investment Development Co. It says the owners used “incorrect connections with executive and political elements” to accrue wealth.
“Dozens of instances of bribe payments to staff and managers of banks have taken place under various titles,” it adds.
Main charges include the use of forged documents to obtain credit at a top bank, which was used to purchase assets including major state-owned companies.
In an official report, state prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehei said, “A total of 39 defendants received sentences, including four death sentences, two life terms and the rest of up to 25 years in prison.” He says officials including deputy ministers in the government were among those sentenced, but did not identify any of them.
Ejehei says the sentences are appealable. By law, the convicted have 20 days to appeal.