Iranian billionaire Babak Zanjani helped Iran breach international oil sanctions, but ever since Hassan Rouhani became president he has fallen from favor, and the climax of his fall came Sunday – when he was sentenced to death.
Zanjani was accused of corruption by Iranian justice officials, after having been arrested in December 2013 on accusations of withholding billions of dollars in oil revenue he channeled through his companies to help Iran breach sanctions, reports BBC.
Zanjani denies the allegations, but nevertheless was convicted of fraud and economic crimes.
His sentence was announced at a press briefing, in which two others also were handed the death sentence and ordered to repay embezzled funds. All three have the option to appeal.
Zanjani has said his net worth is around $13.5 billion, making him one of the richest Iranians. He was blacklisted by the US and EU for his role in helping Iran breach oil sanctions during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The billionaire has revealed he used a web of companies based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Turkey and Malaysia to sell millions of barrels of Iranian oil for the government starting back in 2010, helping Tehran evade the sanctions.
Before his arrest Zanjani had argued that international sanctions were blocking him from handing over $1.2 billion he still owed the government.
However at his recent trial, which AFP notes was held in public in a departure from the standard closed door affairs in Iran, prosecutors claimed he still owed over $2.7 billion in oil revenue.