An Iranian court has sentenced billionaire businessman Babak Zanjani to death on corruption charges, according to Iranian state media.
Zanjani is an oil trader who has been blacklisted by the West for years on charges that he helped Iran evade oil sanctions.
“He was arrested in December 2013, after newly-elected President Hassan Rouhani called for a crackdown on elites who took advantage of economic sanctions for their own profit,” NPR’s Peter Kenyon reports.
“Iran’s judiciary says an Islamic court convicted Zinjani and two associates of ‘spreading corruption on earth,’ a crime that carries the death penalty in Iran. He was accused of fraudulently amassing more than $2 billion, and is also ordered to pay restitution,” Peter says, noting that Zanjani could still appeal the verdict.
Zanjani’s wealth has been estimated at $14 billion, The Associated Press reports, and Iran’s Oil Ministry says the businessman owes more than $2.25 billion for oil sales he made on behalf of the Iranian government.
The wire service also notes this kind of death penalty is not new: “Iran has in the past executed other wealthy individuals found guilty of similar charges. In 2014, Iran executed billionaire businessman Mahafarid Amir Khosravi over corruption charges.”