WORLD – Iranian billionaire sentenced to death

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Iranian businessman Babak Zanjani is said to owe the government more than $2.7bn in oil revenue

Billionaire Iranian businessman Babak Zanjani has been sentenced to death for corruption, justice officials say.

He was arrested in December 2013 after accusations that he withheld billions in oil revenue channelled through his companies. He denies the allegations.

Zanjani, 42, was convicted of fraud and economic crimes, a judiciary spokesperson said at a press briefing.

One of Iran’s richest men, Zanjani was blacklisted by the US and EU for helping Iran evade oil sanctions.

Two others were sentenced to death along with him and all were ordered to repay embezzled funds. The ruling can be appealed.

Zanjani had acknowledged using a web of companies in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Malaysia to sell millions of barrels of Iranian oil on behalf of the government since 2010.

Before his arrest, Zanjani had argued that international sanctions were preventing him from handing over $1.2bn still owed to the government.

But at his recent trial, prosecutors said he still owed the government more than $2.7bn in oil revenue.

He was taken into custody a day after President Hassan Rouhani ordered his government to fight “financial corruption”, particularly “privileged figures” who had “taken advantage of economic sanctions” under the previous government.

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